NBC’s Dateline Sunday “America Now” Features Child Labor in Agriculture in the US

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NBC’s Dateline Sunday “America Now” Features Child Labor in Agriculture in the US

On NBC’s Dateline Sunday a one-hour documentary was aired on July 18, 2010 that highlights the plight of migrant families with working children in the United States. The documentary compared the lives of children covered in their Dateline NBC story on migrant child laborers in 1998 to those working in the fields today. The documentary, “Children of the Harvest“, shows that little has changed in the last 12 years and that much of the problem lies with the lack of protections under child labor laws in the US and weak enforcement. It clearly shows that the life of migrant workers and their children continues to be very difficult and that the children continue to be the invisible workers in much of American agriculture.

Since the 1960’s, NBC has aired several stories depicting the trials and tribulations of migrant workers in the US. The subsequent features build upon the groundbreaking story told by Edward R. Morrows in the 1960’s,”Harvest of Shame”, the first major news coverage revealing the plight of migrant workers in the US. Since the 1960’s, additional stories have highlighted the continued difficulties faced by workers in American agriculture, showing that little has changed over the years related to the conditions of work and lack of decent wages and benefits. In July of 1970, NBC followed up their 1960’s story, and again in 1998 with a look at the children of the adult migrant workers. This latest story follows up on the status of the children covered in the previous story to find that with the assistance of education, some of the migrant children have been able to break the cycle of poverty. Having an education gives them a chance to have a better life. However, for the hundreds of thousands of other children still working as the invisible hands harvesting the fruits and vegetables stocking the shelves of grocery stores everywhere, their plight continues as long as the US allows little protection under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and weak enforcement.

To see the documentary or to learn more, check out the Fields of Peril document released by Human Rights Watch. A copy can be found in the Child Labor Documents section under the Resources menu above. Be sure to watch our “The Harvest” video to learn about child labor in agriculture in the US and around the world. Also, visit our “Children in the Fields” campaign and see views of child labor in agriculture worldwide through out Photo Gallery (also found under Resources.

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