America's Teenagers--Myths and Realities: Media Images, Schooling, and the Social Costs of Careless Indifference

By Sharon L. Nichols; Thomas L. Good | Go to book overview

Chapter 7
Working Teens

Teens are injured at the work place at nearly twice the rate of adults and it is estimated that at least one teen is hurt on the job every 40 seconds, while one dies every five days.

—U.S. Committee on Health and Safety Implications
of Child Labor, 1998 1

I would never work at a McDonald's ... and when I was looking for a job, my brother warned me not to take a job at a McDonald's or a Burger King. I guess he thought it would bring down his reputation to have a brother working at a place like that.

—16-year-old David Neuzil 2

The question of whether young people should work while they are still in school is vigorously debated. Some adults question whether youth should work at all, whereas others believe the central issue is not whether youth should work but how much. Research on how working affects youth academically and socially provides no conclusive answers: Some youths benefit from holding a job; others do not. And some benefit from working more hours—keeping constantly busy—whereas for others working too much has deleterious social or academic effects. Ultimately, one constant seems to be that the quality of teens' working experiences largely determines whether working is beneficial or detrimental. Unfortunately, many adults believe for teenagers any job is good.

As with other aspects of teens' lives, beliefs about youth employment are stereotypical, failing to recognize the enormous range of positive contributions of working youth—which are undervalued and minimized—and the

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