I watched most of the program (missed the first three or four minutes).
In summary, they did not go into immigration in any detail. They were
basically following one family of migrant workers who happened to be
Mexican American (US citizens except for a few members of the extended
family). They did mention pesticides in a rather short sub-part of the
overall program where they discussed the possibility (high?) that a "Safe"
level of pesticides for adults might not be safe for children.
The main thrust of the program was to attempt, as you mentioned, to gain
sympathy for the children and to push for better enforcement of existing
laws as well as strongly hint that those laws are not strong enough. They
seem to believe the age should be raised to 14 for all child labor,
including farm work (or maybe even higher???)
I have to side with the father and the farmers they featured on this
subject of child labor; especially family groups working together. Those
children are learning valuable family values lessons that cannot be taught
in a classroom. As one farmer put it, you don't see these kids out killing
Yes, the kids should be in school when school is in session. Maybe a
little tighter control on education and less on who can work is in order.
I grew up in a family of farm laborers. We didn't travel following the
harvest as the featured family in the program do. We kept busy throughout
the summer and well into the fall with the local crops and started again in
early spring the following year. I went to school when school was in
session and worked weekends. Plus our schools closed down for two
(sometimes three) weeks in the fall to allow the kids to help parents with
the harvest. About 60% of the school was made up of farm children and many
of the rest of us worked for pay. I often worked along side the son of the
I started at about age 8 and was drawing adult wages at age 10. I don't
think it hurt me all that much. I didn't grow up to be a farm owner as did
one of those featured in the program. But I didn't do too badly for myself
and my family. `Course that was a different era, but much of the
philosophy could still apply today.
The program also quoted a few statistics (what show doesn't these days).
I suppose they were meant to alarm the viewing public and may have bothered
some. But the numbers of children killed and injured in "Farm Accidents"
each year in the US were very small. Especially if you compare them to the
number of children killed and injured by other children in our cities where
these kids are left unsupervised by working parents who are away from home
12 to 16 hours a day. And that includes children of single parents as well
as those where both parents live in the home, but both work outside the home.
--Dan in Sunny Puerto Rico--
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