More Loopholes, More Hours, More Harm.

Imagine you are a teen again. You’re going to work for your last day of the week.

You’re extremely tired because of the 2 jobs you’re holding. The only reason you are holding 2 jobs is because you need the money for college. 10 minutes later, you reach work. As the day goes on, you feel sleepier and sleepier. Your boss then gives you a job to load some heavy crates into a truck. You go out back and load the crates.

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The first few are easy to do, but they get progressively harder. “Only 3 more,” you tell yourself. You finish one, then another, but on the last one, as you’re almost there, it slips and falls on top of you. You end up with a few broken ribs and break your arm. “Did this happen because I was tired?” you ask yourself. Then you start thinking, “You know what, I should try working less than 20 hours.

Maybe that will help me be less tired.” The current Maine laws don’t limit the number of jobs a teen can have, but do limit the times they can work. Teens ages 14 and 15 cannot work before 7:00 AM or after 7:00 PM on days with school. During the school week, they can work a maximum of 18 hours a week, 3 hours a day, 6 days a week. Also, they cannot work during school hours.

During the summer, teens can work between 7:00 AM and 9:00 PM. They can work 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, 6 days a week. Nevertheless, there is a way to work more than 20 hours a week. If teens want to work more than 20 hours, they can get multiple jobs. They should know the risks of working more than 20 hours a week though, because they have the right to know about the risks with working too long. A law should be passed saying teens can only work 20 hours a week, even with 2 jobs.

It is a proven fact that if teens work more than 20 hours a week on a school week, it will increase the risk of behavioral problems and dropping out. A study was run by the University of Washington from 2010-2011. The study shows that high school students grades 9 and 10 that worked 20 hours or less had the same grade average as those that did not work at all. Students who worked more than 20 hours a week showed lower grades, higher behavioral problems, and had a higher percentage of using drugs than the other students. Additionally, teens need education to be successful in life.

It is really obvious that they have to be successful, but working more than 20 hours a week during school can cause them to have lower grades. The same study I mentioned earlier, the one by the University of Washington, showed that teens that work more than 20 hours a week during the school week had a higher chance of dropping out of school. Another reason teens shouldn’t have two jobs is because of sleep. Yes, something as simple as sleep can be the difference between life and death. It is one of the most important requirements of staying healthy. And teens working more than 20 hours are getting too little sleep to keep them going strong all day at work.

Studies show that 4 in 10 high school students go to bed after 11:00 at night on school days. After a few days of this, teens get extremely tired, leading to fatigue, which leads to injuries at work. On average, 230,000 teens are injured at work each year. These are insane numbers. They could be reduced to probably half of that by making a law saying that teens can only work 20 hours a week, even with multiple jobs being held.

Kathryn Monahan, the student that ran the study, compared grades of high school students that didn’t work at all, worked less than 20 hours a week, and teens that worked more than 20 hours a week, all in the same grade. Her studies showed that teens that worked less than 20 hours scored the same grades on tests as the students that didn’t work at all. The students that worked more than 20 hours, on average, had lower grades than the non-working students. Another fact found in this study is that of the students tested, the students that didn’t work, or worked less than 20 hours had higher expectations in school than the students that worked more than 20 hours. The students that worked more than 20 hours were also more prone to substance abuse, or participating in illegal activities. Teens are the next generation work force.

Don’t let them get hurt. Make 20 hours the limit.