February 2

Letter to the editor: Child labor robs children of childhood

The headline in the Jan. 8 Portland Press Herald read: “LePage says 12-year-olds should have work option.”

He cites as an example his own early experience starting to work at age 11 and suggests today’s Maine children follow his example.

I had comparable childhood experiences. Growing up as I did in Chicago during the post-Great Depression years, I had no choice but to start working part time at the age of 13.

My meager salary of 30 cents per hour went home to my mother to help put food on our table.

I had little time for homework and none for after-school activities.

I vowed that when I married and became a father, my children would have a better life than I did growing up.

I did not want them robbed of their childhood. They did hold part-time jobs as seniors in high school, the difference being that they kept the money they earned, did not neglect their schoolwork and had time for friends.

Considering LePage’s own background, I would expect him to have more compassion for the plight of Maine’s children and their parents who live in poverty. Instead, he wages a cruel, relentless war against the poor.

It appears our governor has not learned from the hardship of his youth. Not everyone can claim a success story. Those who have failed (the majority through no fault of their own) are in need of a helping hand, not callous rejection.

Twelve-year-old Maine children should not be deprived of their childhood. If only Gov. LePage agreed.

Sam Kamin


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