Childhood shouldn’t be spent working

Taleise Lawrence, Copy Editor

Last fall, Republicans proposed a bill in the Wisconsin State Capitol that would allow children ages 14 and 15 to work longer hours. This would only apply to small businesses that aren’t regulated by federal labor laws. 

On Feb. 4, Governor Evers vetoed this bill. The reason given was that having separate systems of work requirements for different types of businesses would be too confusing and potentially cause issues with the overlapping laws.  

I think Governor Evers made the right call. Children entering high school should not be working until 11 p.m., even if only on non-school nights. 9:30 on school nights even seems too late. It promotes hustle culture from a young age, which is unfortunately very normalized in American culture.  

I also fear that this small step would have a snowball effect. This bill would’ve only applied to small businesses, like mom-and-pop shops that deal with a lot of tourism in the summer. However, if this bill passed, I’m sure more would be proposed allowing children to work at all businesses later.  

Employers would likely guilt these kids into working more hours than they want to. Most schools start classes at eight in the morning. 

This would mean only eight hours of sleep for children after work; this is only if they went straight home and straight to bed, and they don’t have to be up earlier than an hour before school. Most students would likely have homework to do, need to eat dinner and a lengthy commute. For kids still growing, this is not enough sleep.  

However, I can see some potential positives in this bill. I had a friend in high school who was a full-time student, athlete and Burger King employee. She often had to skip practice to walk to work. There were only so many hours she was allowed to work, which  were not enough for her; she needed money to support herself and her younger sister who were living on their own. 

This bill would’ve been a godsend for her. Being able to work more hours in high school would likely help students from low income families. 

You only get one childhood. It’s important to let kids be kids. Gov. Evers made the right call vetoing this bill, and I hope none like it will pass in the future.