Many people believe that it should be against the law for kids to work, but these types of laws actually deprive many people of important opportunities. Come learn why!

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Ronni: Hey, Brittany.

Brittany: Hi, Ronni.

Ronni: All right. I don’t know if I told you this before, actually. I do think I’ve talked about this before, but both you and I, we’ve taught and we have teaching credentials, right? So, originally when I got my teaching credentials.

Brittany: Actually, I don’t have teaching credentials. That was my opinion. Oh, it was a libertarian private school.

Ronni: So, I did okay.

Brittany: I did not have any credentials, but it was a great school, top of the state.

Ronni: Well, I only got them because of the bureaucracy of you have to have this. So, anyway, the point is I got two teaching credentials in California because I wanted to be this thing called a studio teacher. And the studio teacher.

Brittany: What’s that?

Ronni: Laws require that you have two teaching credentials, one in elementary and one secondary subject, and that you become certified in child labor laws that pertain to the entertainment industry. So, what I did was I worked on sets on sets of films or commercials or even photo shoots that had child actors or child models. And not only did I make sure that they were getting their schoolwork done, but I also had to make sure that all the child labor laws were being enforced.

Brittany: Interesting.

Ronni: So, it’s an interesting position or certification that only exists in California. Or if the child is a California minor or a resident and they travels to another state or another country in order to film, then the production company also has to provide a studio teacher. So, that’s what I did. Yeah, it’s an interesting little world. So, I was thinking about that just recently and it got me thinking about child labor laws in general. So, here’s a question, Brittany, when you were a kid, did you work? Did you have jobs? What did you?

Brittany: Kind of Yes. So, I babysat like crazy because I lived in a community with a lot of kids, so there was always a need for babysitters. I was like a nanny for a little bit. So, I did, I think that counts. I did work.

Ronni: At what age would you say, was this when you were a little bit older, a little bit younger?

Brittany: About 11 to, okay. Yeah, so younger. Younger 11 is when I started.

Ronni: So, I was babysitting also I think around 11 or 12. That was what I did. But then I actually got my first kind of job when I was 14 and I was working at, this is a local publishing company by publishing company.

Brittany: Wait, really? So you had a real job?

Ronni: It was a printing company. Sorry. Okay. Yeah, it was a real job. It was something where, so it was like this warehouse and they printed, I was in Texas at the time, and they printed Texas legal books like Texas, the penal codes and things, and they printed all the textbook. It’s very random now, but for some reason, I remember it was during the summer, I think it was 14. They needed help and it was a very simple thing. I just took stacks of paper and then I put dividers in them and then I put the spirals in them and then I ran it through the spiral machine. Very simple stuff. But that was my first ever job and still, I was only 14 at the time. But child labor, it’s an interesting kind of thought. I was actually doing a little bit of research and I realized that even with some libertarians, it’s considered a little bit of a divided. Yeah, it’s a hot topic. So, on one hand, when you talk about child labor and child labor laws, we have these images conjured up in our mind. We think of young kids working in the coal mines or sweatshops, which is where you have a bunch of people working in a small room and they’re working tons of hours.

Brittany: Which are also not necessarily bad, but we’ll take that for another episode.

Ronni: But I’m saying that’s what, when we talk about child labor laws, that’s what people get in their minds. These negative things of like, oh, bad conditions, dangerous situations, people being taken advantage of. That’s what you think of. Okay, so, did you ever watch the movie Newsies? Well, now it’s like a Broadway show. Okay, everything.

Brittany: Okay. First of all, I am a musical sales of musicals too. My entire young childhood, I had a crush on Christian Bale for a reason is because he was in Newsies, not a good singer, but he was in Newsies. So, short answer, Ronni, that is one of my earliest and best memories of a musical. I was obsessed. My brothers were in the play. Love it. One of my favorite movies.

Ronni: Yes, it was also one of mine as well, for sure. I watched it so many times. I want to break out in song right now, but I won’t anyway. But still, you think about it’s the story of a bunch of newsboys and they go on strike, right? So, because they feel like the price hike is unfair, whatever the point is, is that these are the ideas that we think of when we think of this is why we need to have child labor laws because the boys, the newsies are being taken advantage of. So, we have a lot of these negative ideas that have been drummed up into our heads. And so a lot of people think, oh, we definitely need to have child labor laws. We need the government to step in and tell us what kids can do and can’t do, and at what age, and for how long. So yeah, it’s kind of a divided thing.

Brittany: You’re making me want to sing right now. I’m about to sing what is it? Fine Life Carry? But if we end early, we can end up singing the song.

Ronni: But okay, you didn’t have too many jobs when you were younger. I also just babysat and then I didn’t really have any other bigger jobs until I was 14. So, my daughter, she’s 11 right now and I’m homeschooling her still. And we found a local preschool in our area. It’s an at-home preschool, so run out of someone’s house and they were looking for homeschool girls who wanted to help and be like a preschool apprenticeship. I love that. So, one day a week, my daughter goes in for three hours in the afternoon and she helps at a preschool. And so it’s fantastic. So, she’s 11, but it’s a great fit for her because she’s learning about how to take care of younger kids. They’re giving her a little bit of money, but she feels as though she’s earning her own money and making her own income. So, it’s a really great opportunity. And then I also think about the magazine, the Tuttle Twins magazine that we put on. And every month we feature a young entrepreneur, and there’s been some amazing stories that we’ve featured in there of kids that are doing all these really cool jobs. And so definitely kids have started working and being inventive and finding ways to earn money at much younger ages than just 14, 16, or whatever people usually consider. So, then we just talked about the negatives that people usually think of when they think of child labor laws, but here’s a bunch of positive examples of kids, younger kids who are working. And then you have to think, well, should the government mandate that these kids can’t work in this way, that they’re not allowed to rake leaves for neighbors to earn money? At what point should the government be able to mandate the things that the kids are able to do? So kind of wait a little bit, like pros and cons to it.

Brittany: Yeah, and I think too, back in the time when kids were working in the coal mines, because that’s where a lot of these come from is kids were working in factories and a lot of them were children from immigrants who everybody had to work so they could put a roof over their heads. These were pretty bad conditions. A five-year-old shouldn’t be in a coal mine, I don’t think. I don’t know. But there were some more, it made more sense, but now it seems like it stops kids from learning lessons that would really set them up for adulthood.

Ronni: Well, I think as we’ve often discovered is that a lot of laws and rules are set that don’t, on the surface it sounds as though they’re for a good cause, but they’re not actually solving the true problem. So, in a case like this, if oh, all these kids are going to the dangerous conditions of the coal mines because they need money for their family to eat, maybe the best solution here is what conditions have been set up that these families can’t afford to eat? What is causing this extreme poverty? What ways can that be solved? And so I feel like sometimes laws are made child labor laws, which might have good intentions at the beginning, but end up, like you said, harming other kids or harming others the benefits that could come out of working, not necessarily in a coal mine. I don’t think kids should be working in a coal mine.

Brittany: If come back to the coal mines builds character.

Ronni: But if a seven-year-old wants to be, again, raking leaves for their neighbor and earning money that way, then I say maybe that’s okay. So, anyways, I was going through child labor, we’re talking about them, but I actually was diving in and looking at what the child labor laws were. So, I’m really familiar with working on set with child activity before I get there. So, right now, the government says that in most circumstances, if you’re under 16 years old, you were not allowed to work during school hours at all. So, even if you’re homeschooled and you want to work, pick up a couple of hours at some local business that would hire you. If it’s during school hours of the local public school, you can’t work. And so that is the law right now, which feels a little bit unfair. And then if you’re under 14, there’s only a few jobs that you are allowed to have, which is you can deliver papers, you can work in performing arts, you can babysit, you can work for your parents, or you can do any farm work for your parents. I think it’s interesting how that was grandfathered in. So, farm work for your family is completely allowed. And in fact, that can be done during school hours. Isn’t that weird? It’s interesting.

Brittany: That is interesting.

Ronni: So, I’ll just real fast, Lauren, because I started with talking about child actors. So, I want to talk about the interesting world of child labor laws for child actors because you’ve probably watched movies or TV shows and they have babies, like little tiny kids or toddlers or preschoolers. And so normally it would be like, wait, can you have a toddler working and performing arts? Yes, you can. And so, having, and the child labor laws, at least in California, are so strict. It’s things like if you are between this age, you can only work, you can only be on set this many hours of that many hours. You need to have one hour for food, you need to have this many hours of rest time. Only this many hours of you can be in front of the camera and it’s very regimented.

Brittany: It’s like three hours a day for Harry Potter kids. I heard, I don’t know if that’s true or not, that they were only allowed to film for three hours a day until they turned 18.

Ronni: No, it should be more than that. Three hours of schooling. But depending on how old you were, I think at that age you can be on set for nine hours or nine and a half with a meal. This is California. I don’t know about the UK or what their rules are.

Brittany: But I would imagine because California is the place that that’s a pretty, yeah, interesting.

Ronni: Yeah, so, it’s super strict there. But so in all the kinds of questions that this brings up that, again, this is not one of those podcasts in which I have an answer for it is just one of those episodes in which it brings up an idea and allows people to think about this. But the ultimate question here is to what point do we think that the government should be involved and be able to mandate what children are allowed to do for work? And is there, just because a kid is a kid, I mean we have a lot of kid listeners, just because you’re under 14, does that mean that you shouldn’t be allowed to work? Why is that? And is it just because, oh, we want you to be in school? What if you’re homeschooled and you’re still doing all of your school and you can still work? So, it’s, I dunno, when we talk about things that the government mandates, it’s an interesting thought of how far should the government be making the mandates in this too?

Brittany: That’s a good point. And I think that what we always talk about is it goes back to the parents and doing what’s best for the kids. And I know there’s Acton Academy, which I think Connor’s kids are going to now. Oh yeah, they do apprenticeships. And so you are working during the day at a younger age, so, yeah, I think these are really interesting things to think about and if we need them or not. So good openers for conversation. Do you have anything else you want to say before we wrap up, Ronni?

Ronni: No, that’s really it. Like I said, it was something that I was just pondering without a clear solution yet, but just something on my mind and I thought others might want to think about it too.

Brittany: Yeah, no, it’s so interesting and as somebody who wanted to make money as a kid, I think it’s a good discussion to have. Alright guys, well thank you so much for listening. Don’t forget to like and subscribe and as always, we will talk to you again soon.

Ronni: Alright, see you soon.