Virginia, what am I going to do with you? Since moving away at the end of 2007 I have witnessed from afar as the commonwealth has consistently taken two steps forward and then one step back over and over again. It’s a state that has experienced drastic local and state-wide changes over the past decade (much like the rest of the country), but some things seem to have gone unnoticed!
Are tobacco farms in Virginia really using child labor? Not only are they apparently using child labor, but the underage employees are having adverse health issues due to their jobs in the tobacco fields. What year are we living in? Are we sure we aren’t talking about 1934 instead of 2014?
According to the CNN article titled, Report slams child labor in tobacco fields, it is legal for children to work in the fields. Children as young as 7 turn to these positions for income, a majority of which are Hispanic and minorities. I’m not shocked by the ethnic breakdown, although I wish it weren’t the case, but I am shocked by the ages of field workers.
Yes, other states also use child labor in their tobacco fields, but that doesn’t make it right. I’m proud to be a Virginian, but embarrassed of Virginia after learning about this issue. 75% of children who were questioned for the report that CNN was referring to claimed to have experienced symptoms of acute nicotine poisoning including nausea, vomiting, not being hungry, headaches, dizziness, irritation and breathing issues.
No child at age 11 or 12 or even 13 should be dealing with this issue. There are laws in place not allowing people under the age of 18 to smoke for a reason. Nicotine is bad for you, but society is letting our youth roll around in it. This will just not do!
The children also reported not getting regular breaks and working overly long hours. What country are we in? Don’t we have laws against this? I guess not!
Virginia should set the president for other states by setting a hire age restriction for those who have to work in tobacco fields. In a perfect world technology could help limit the number of people required to work in these fields, but until that time it is our human responsibility to act. I hope all Virginians get involved and correct this problem.
The report suggest making it illegal for anyone under 18 to work in tobacco fields due to the health risks. I support this. Do you? Call your representatives and let them know you care about this topic. Get it on their radar and tell them we won’t settle for children working in our tobacco fields. Not in our country, not in our state and not in our lifetime. It’s not acceptable.
To find out who your State Senator is in Virginia and how to contact them click here!
To find out who your representative is in the Virginia House of Delegates click here!
Another article to check out is on CBS DC titled Children As Young As 7 Working on Tobacco Farms in U.S.