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Protecting Youth at Work: Health, Safety, and Development of Working Children and Adolescents in the United States
relationship to the employer, or the sector of the economy in which the enterprise operates.
With these principles in mind, the committee's recommendations are designed to protect young people in the workplace through updated, enhanced, and adequately enforced laws and regulations and through education and training. Because such efforts require adequate data, the committee also recommends improving data and surveillance systems and more general research. The major recommendations are included below in their entirety; the remaining recommendations in the report are summarized.
Surveillance Systems and Data
The combination of federal data sources and national and local survey research provides a fair amount of information about teenagers who have jobs, where they work, and how much they work. However, definitions and nomenclature often vary from source to source, making it difficult to compare information. Furthermore, little information is available about the extent of work by those under the age of 15, despite evidence that many youngsters begin working for pay before that age. Nor is there much information on subpopulations of young people, such as those who are disabled, poor, or members of minority groups. Information on the quality of the work in which young people engage is also lacking. And the limited data that do exist are not detailed enough to be used for state-level analysis of working children and adolescents, analysis that is needed for targeting prevention and training efforts as well as for regulatory enforcement efforts.
Likewise, information on the adverse health consequences associated with youth employment is limited. The occupational injuries, illnesses, and hazardous exposures to which working youth are subjected can be prevented by proper public health actions. Surveillance systems that provide information about where and how young workers are injured or made ill on the job is essential both for targeting and for evaluating prevention efforts. The current occupational illness and injury surveillance systems are limited and poorly coordinated, and they have not been evaluated to assess the extent to which they may systematically omit young workers or subgroups of young workers.