For most children reading today’s Wonder of the Day, your full-time job is school. You get up, get ready, eat breakfast, and then head to school. Your job is to do your best to learn all that you can.

Why? So one day you can get a real job to make money to support yourself and your family. And if you think school is a lot of work…just wait! Ask your parents. We bet they would trade places with you in a heartbeat!

Many children look forward to the day when they can get a job of their own. Some children look forward to the independence. Others look forward to the money they will make and what they can do with it. Still others eagerly await the chance to do something important for others.

So what do you think about getting a job? Are you ready? Do you look forward to it? What do you think you want to be when you grow up? And why aren’t there more children working in the world today?

In many places around the world, children do begin working at an early age. Unfortunately, many of the jobs are dangerous and put children at risk of serious illness or injury. Many countries around the world, including the United States, have very specific laws that regulate the age when children are allowed to work and what types of jobs are appropriate for children.

These laws are called child labor laws. They don’t prevent children from doing every type of work. Instead, they seek to make sure that children aren’t taken advantage of or forced to work in dangerous situations or for long hours that would endanger their health and safety or deprive them of the chance to attend school.

During the industrial revolution, many children were forced to work in factories in unsafe conditions. Today, the majority of child labor worldwide occurs in agriculture (farming) rather than factories. Many of these child laborers work for free for their parents in areas where poverty is high and everyone has to work to make ends meet.

So what exactly constitutes child labor? According to international law, child labor is any work done by children under the age of 12, light work (work that doesn’t harm a child’s health or interfere with school attendance) by children 12-14, and hazardous work done by children 15-17.

Is all child labor bad? Not at all! Many families involve children in family businesses from an early age. That doesn’t mean that those children don’t get an education or miss their childhood. They just help out around the family farm or business as a way of life growing up.

If you’re under 12, don’t rush to grow up too fast! Enjoy your childhood while you can. Get the best education you can. There will be plenty of years to work ahead of you.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to be interested in working at an early age. But rather than jumping into a work situation, explore what the world has to offer. Look into all sorts of different careers and learn what you can about them. You never know when that exploration will lead you to the career that will define the rest of your life!

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