Overlooked and overworked: Teens in the work force


Nik Shuliahin

Students are taken advantage of for their desire to work and be financially independent by employers.

Itziar Carrasco Gomez, Opinion/Editorials Editor

Exploitation stems from the unknown, when people do not know enough to be aware of a situation, it is easier to take advantage of them.

Teenagers are often preyed on in the workforce due to their determination to work but lack of understanding of the realities of the endeavor. They often have trouble setting boundaries especially to their older and more experienced employers. Teens have found themselves at the center of exploitation; from working strenuously long hours to receiving unfairly low pay. Employers have created a system that continues to promote an unhealthy cycle of spending far too much energy on a job, leading teenagers to be unable to keep up with the academic and social aspects of life.

Nativity is something people pray on, as it leaves a blind spot others can abuse. Teens are often given a vague description of their job when being interviewed, however, they accumulate more responsibilities than they signed up for as they go- most of which they were not made aware of during the hiring process. This could come in the form of giving a student the job for a host position, but after a month having them being cashier, bussing out tables, and even serving for the same amount of pay. It happens so slowly that one is unable to tell that they are now working three different jobs without being adequately compensated for it. 

This slow change from a simple responsibility to an overwhelming load of responsibility leads to many teens working unethically longer hours. As a result, an unhealthy work life balance develops due to the large amount of responsibilities one has from both school and work. Although burn out is achieved much quicker in this position, most teens choose to keep working the job that is exploiting them.

Seeing a bank account grow every two weeks seems more valuable than school work which won’t to pay off  until years later. This quicker ability to reap what they sow leaves most teens looking forward to their paycheck rather than a good grade on a test.

The feeling of financial independence and growth, has more likely to put off academic achievements due to the inability to gain a reward immediately. Employers know this, they are aware that quick rewards are often given priority over longer ones for teenagers- and they know how to take advantage of that.

Exploitation is not just something that happens outside the United States, it is present in local communities; a phenomenon that has recently been coming into light

The popular cookie chain Crumbl was taken to court and fined $60,000 for child labor law infringements. One of the workers affected by this exploitation was found to only be fourteen. The company was found guilty of scheduling minors for long hours of work, exceeding the maximum in the state, and making them work with heavy machinery, such as large and dangerous ovens. This infringement of labor laws is just one example of the exploitation many teens experience on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately this comes with no repercussions to employers, as most go unnoticed due to the child’s lack of  boundaries and awareness of the position they are in. 

Green Hope students are both at risk, and presently in a position of being exploited. Many use their work experiences as funny stories to tell friends, making light of quite serious issues. Students complain that they do not get paid enough, or have been scheduled to work 60 hours. While they can be funny stories to tell, it is important to keep in mind that such harsh working conditions affects students academically, and can impact their ability to keep up with school. This inability to keep up leaves kids unable to pursue long term goals and be left behind, as their low grades and busy work schedule leaves them unable to go after opportunities that could grow their life academically.

Companies taking advantage of teenage employees is not just a problem that directly affects students, but can make an extreme difference in their future. In order to ensure the proficiency and success of students, efforts must be made to further regulate the conditions they work in to avoid them being both taken advantage of and burning out.