Last month a 15-year-old Amish girl lost an arm in a saw accident in a pallet shop in Allen County, Indiana. Local news outlet WANE has done a story about child labor violations in the business where the accident took place. You can view the clip here (no longer online).
Child labor restrictions were lessened for Amish in 2004, allowing greater scope for 14 to 17-year-olds to work in family businesses, including manufacturing shops.
Interviewing Amish business owners for my first book, it occasionally came up that a child couldn’t do certain work because they weren’t old enough.
While Amish may not always agree with government regulations such as those imposed by OSHA, I have a sense that many, if at times begrudgingly, adhere to them.
However, I don’t know how effectively you prevent, say, an Amish child who is a few months shy of the mandated age from doing a forbidden task.
Idle hands need work–work which young people are eager to do.
How adamant are Amish parents and business owners about adhering to the law, assuming they are aware of it? The Allen County pallet shop owner, for example, stated that he did not even know he was violating child labor laws.
Amish, of course, feel strongly about the importance of their children working, especially in the crucial years following graduation from the eighth grade.
What do you think?