It took many years to pass a minimum age law as powerful businessmen like J.P. Morgan and others fought to keep children working in factories. A few states passed child labor laws that reduced the twelve hour day to ten hours a day. Few states enforced the laws and many children labored next to their largely poor, immigrant parents.
As children worked in factories and on farms, they were removed from the possibility of educating themselves and the opportunity to get out of poverty. While some children are still working in unsafe conditions, it is largely seen on the west coast and south where illegal migrant workers harvest vegetable crops. Mandatory school attendance removes most children from labor exploitation.
When I am feeling especially discouraged I remind myself that things could be and were, considerably worse in our collective past. Remember all kids count.
Scot Hurlburt can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org