Are Schools Violating Child Labor Laws?

By Brianna Rolle, News Editor

How often do you feel overwhelmed by school work and activities? How many times have you had to completely ignore one class or “take the L” to properly prepare for another? How often do you feel exhausted or defeated at school?

Child Labor laws were created to protect children against being overworked and mistreated in the workplace, but what regulations are protecting students in schools?

According to US News, students, on average, spend 8 hours at school, spend 3.5 hours a night on homework, and have hours of extracurriculars and jobs. Personally, I have over 7 hours of extracurricular activities a week, with Wednesday being my only day to come home right after school, and I spend all of that time doing homework and catching up on readings from earlier on in the week.

According to the Georgia Department of Labor, minors under 16 cannot work more than 8 hours on a non-school day and 40 hours on a non-school week. The law in England extends this age to 18 and also enforces that those under 18 have a 12- hour rest between each working day. Currently, in school alone, we more than violate these standards.

“A student needs between 8 and 10 hours of sleep, so if their extracurriculars and their academics and their work life doesn’t allow them a proper night sleep, then [students] may be overworked,” Tracey Eick, AHS AP Psychology teacher, said.

Some people would disagree that students are being overworked and claim that the overwhelming amount of work is due to poor time management.

“[Students] don’t know what they are capable of. Sometimes they might need to just reorder their priorities… college is all about time management,” Eick said.

There is truth to the fact that students should work with their time management to be successful, but there is still a lot of work put on students.

Although the school does try to implement policies to help students decrease their workload and have breaks, these policies are often ignored or unknown.

Balance nights were implemented to give students a night off from homework and extracurricular activities, but the night is not always useful. Teachers often will place a test on school days before a balance night, since it is common practice to abstain from assigning homework after a test. Balance nights have also been put on days where homework would not be assigned anyways, such as the PSAT day.

Additionally, there is also a rule that states if a student has more than 3 tests in one day, they can get one of them moved, but most students are not aware of this rule and end up taking all of the tests anyway. Plus, the policy is not always helpful because it only applies to 3 unit tests. If there are multiple quizzes or essays, the policy does not give students the ability to reschedule one of them to lighten their workload.

Although anchor time is a good way to give students time to do their homework or have a moment to breathe during the school day, teachers often complain about it because of the shortened class periods, sometimes resulting in extra homework being assigned to compensate for the lost time.

Between ineffective school policy and an apparent  teacher mentality that students only have work for that class, students are often overloaded with hours of homework every night. This not only leads to lack of sleep resulting in students falling asleep in class, mood swings, poor job performance, and increased susceptibility to illness and depression, but it also leads to increased stress levels. It also gives students a feeling of helplessness, as if they do not have control over how their time is spent.

When people do not have control over their surroundings, their stress levels automatically go up.

“You think about traffic in Atlanta. You don’t have any control over it, and that causes you a lot of stress,” Eick said.

Giving students so much excess work causes increased levels of stress and sickness. To ensure more productive and pleasant school days, teachers should reduce the amount of homework they give to students, giving students more time to breathe.

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