Desperate data about desperate children

An interesting article in New Scientist magazine talks about the book Children’s Chances: How countries can move from surviving to thriving by Jody Heymann with Kristen McNeill , in which they “provide the first global comparison of laws and public policies in 191 countries covering poverty, discrimination, education, health, child labour, child marriage and parental care options.”

The short article states that the book “It aims to provide an armoury of deeply disturbing data with which to hold to account the world’s passive politicians.”

“Laws really matter, found Heymann and her colleagues. Laws covering what look to be family or cultural decisions such as early child marriage or education are important because these issues determine whether a child survives or thrives.

When girls marry young, for example, they tend to drop out of school earlier and have poorer health, and, in turn, their children have poorer health.”

The book and its associated website offer a disturbing glimpse into the plight of children around the world, sometimes bringing to light surprising facts.

For instance, there is no minimum legal age that a girl must be before she can get married in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Namibia or The United States of America.

BUT a reader from the U.S.A has pointed out that:

“There is no FEDERAL mandate for when a woman can marry, those laws are left to the States per our Constitution. In most States one must have parental approval to marry before 18. To make it seem as though we allow children to be married off in childhood, as they do in many backward countries, is either ignorant or disengenuous.”

And there is no legislated national minimum age that children must be before they are able to to enter full-time work in Pakistan, India, Australia or New Zealand.

BUT here in NSW, Australia, this is what the law says about children working:

What age can I start work?
When can I start work?

There is no minimum age to start casual or part-time work in NSW. However, you have to be 14 and 9 months to do door-to-door sales work.

What hours can I work?

If you are under 15 (or under 16 in the case of modelling work), it is against the law for an employer to require you to work:

  • During school hours
  • More than one shift per day
  • More than four hours on a day you have to go to school
  • After 9pm if you have to go to school the next day
  • If it is less than 12 hours since your last shift
  • For any hours that make the combination of your school hours and work hours in a 7 day week more than 40 hours
  • If your employer has an exemption from obtaining an authority to employ people under 15, they cannot require you to work for more than 10 hours per week.

There are additional rules about working hours if you are doing door-to-door sales, modelling, theatrical performances or entertainment work. Click here for more information.

When can I work full-time?

You can work full-time after you have completed year 10.

If you are under the age of 15, seeking full time work with the intention of leaving school, you need to seek permission from the Department of Education and Training.

from http://www.lawstuff.org.au/nsw_law/topics/employment/article4

How Long Are Children Protected From Full-time Work

Hopefully this book will come into the hands of people who can make changes for the well-being of children in their own nations.

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4 thoughts on “Desperate data about desperate children

  1. Hold up a second there – there is no FEDERAL mandate for when a woman can marry, those laws are left to the States per our Constitution. In most States one must have parental approval to marry before 18. To make it seem as though we allow children to be married off in childhood, as they do in many backward countries, is either ignorant or disengenuous.

      1. Thanks bgddyjim,

        I wondered about the accuracy of that point.

        Here in NSW, Australia, this is what the law says about children working:

        What age can I start work?
        When can I start work?

        There is no minimum age to start casual or part-time work in NSW. However, you have to be 14 and 9 months to do door-to-door sales work.

        What hours can I work?

        If you are under 15 (or under 16 in the case of modelling work), it is against the law for an employer to require you to work:

        • During school hours
        • More than one shift per day
        • More than four hours on a day you have to go to school
        • After 9pm if you have to go to school the next day
        • If it is less than 12 hours since your last shift
        • For any hours that make the combination of your school hours and work hours in a 7 day week more than 40 hours
        • If your employer has an exemption from obtaining an authority to employ people under 15, they cannot require you to work for more than 10 hours per week.

        There are additional rules about working hours if you are doing door-to-door sales, modelling, theatrical performances or entertainment work. Click here for more information.

        When can I work full-time?

        You can work full-time after you have completed year 10.

        If you are under the age of 15, seeking full time work with the intention of leaving school, you need to seek permission from the Department of Education and Training on 9561 8000.

        I’ll add these points to the post.

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