A working teen is a happy teen

January 10, 2010
By Kailey Rodriguez SILVER, Romeoville, Illinois
Kailey Rodriguez SILVER, Romeoville, Illinois
7 articles 10 photos 6 comments

Suicide, murder, and killing; those are big words. When you hear them most often, you usually heed a devastating story, one that will take you breath away. Let’s pretend, there is a 13 year old, named Mike. Mike does well in school, he seems to be a good kid, and no one would have ever expected the news given to them one fateful evening. They had heard that Mike had got killed in a gang shooting. No one would have guessed that a kid like him would have ever been involved in that type of activity.
However, people also didn’t realize how much free time Mike had after school. He had wanted to apply for a job, knowing it would teach him responsibility, give him a salary, and even prepare him for his adulthood tasks. Unfortunately, he was too young to be hired; as the minimum age to get a job is 14 years old. Since Mike couldn’t apply for a job, he had nothing better to do in his free time. He searched for the only other place where he could get money and blow off some time, and found it in the act of joining a gang. If only Mike could have been able to get a job, he would have been much better suited in life. Mike could have succeeded, but instead, he is now dead. Getting a job might just be the push into reality young teenagers need, so that they can stay out of trouble.

In our present world, who are we to knowingly allow these teenagers to make poor choices, and not offer them an alternate option?! We must know that somewhere, in time, the society of teenagers will collapse, if the community doesn’t give them something better to do. They should be given an opportunity that provides them with something to do in their free time besides cause trouble. They should also be allowed the chance to show their responsibility and earn a salary for their hard work. To understand this injustice, you must first be aware of the ridiculous law holding back young teenagers from getting a job. The law pronounced by the U.S Department of Labor clarifies that, “The FLSA sets 14 years of age as the minimum age for employment” (FSLA). No matter how mature you are, how trustworthy, or even how high of grades you have, you cannot start work. This is extremely unjust! If we are going to save this generation of teenagers from harmful and useless extra time, give them a mature way to practice for adulthood, learn responsibility, and how to manage their very own money income, we are going to need to lower the minimum age requirements on how old you must be to obtain a job.
You see, when a teenager is determined to do something, they can, and they will. For instance, have you ever noticed how quickly even a thirteen year old can memorize the lyrics to their favorite song? Let me tell you from self experience, it’s pretty darn fast.
Adults may be starting to learn the chorus to the song, all the while; the teenager has already nailed down all the lyrics. This can also be true with a teen learning a work trait. They can quickly and efficiently learn how to do their job. However, when they are restricted from learning these skills, they are not able to fully apply themselves to the best of their abilities.
Now think. When an adult is without a job, and they are making poor decisions in life, what is it that so many people advise them? Over and over, they are told to simply, get a job, and control their life positively. I believe Dick Cheney says it best. “You've got a job to do, and because you've got a job to do, you've got to focus on that, so you don't have time for personal considerations.” (Lehrer). In other words, I believe he is trying to say that obtaining a job will help destroy time that might be otherwise used to make poor decisions. This would apply quite nicely into the life of a teenager as well.
Focusing on positive activities should be an option for everybody; not just a pleasure adults receive when they are granted the opportunity to get a job. By having positivity as your center, it could over-power the annoyance of having to hear over and over how you need to “step up to the plate and start taking responsibility.” I bet advisors are just as tired of having to tell this to teens, just as much as teens are tired of hearing it. How long will we stand for this circle to continue? At what point will we decide to break this cycle, and provide the teenagers a chance to take on responsibility? That day needs to begin now! Allowing teenagers to apply for a job at a younger age will give them the opportunity to take on that ever needed responsibility.
With a job young teens will be taught what true responsibility means, and what they must do to ensure the job they are entitled to get completed. They will be held accountable if something goes wrong. Everyone will eventually have to take control sometime in their life, so the earlier you find out what it’s like to be held accountable, the easier your future will be.
Not only does getting a job give teenagers something productive to do, as well as provide them money to do things they want to do, but it also gives teenagers an early taste of what kind of job they might enjoy when they get older. For instance, if a young teenager was able to get a job before high school, then they might get an idea of elective classes they might want to take in high school, based on their job. From there, after knowing what classes to pick, when it’s time to graduate, they will know whether or not they wish to continue that category into college. By just starting work a few years earlier, we will become just that much closer to determining our future, and making it one we will be proud of.
Furthermore, teenagers will be paid for their labor they committed to at work. With this money, they can use it to spend on their Friday night activities, or anything for that matter. They no longer will have to stay at home, over-using that famous line parents hate to hear, “I’m bored!” They can now use their new-found money to be self sufficient with their time, and enjoy their youth while they have it, because as we all know, life is too short to stay at home and do nothing.
Working teens will earn practice for the future, for how things will roll when they grow up. More importantly though, I believe by getting a job, they will earn confidence, and become proud, even feel important. Feeling this way may just be enough to push the teens away from making life altering awful decisions when they are young. They will neither have the time anymore to make poor decisions, and they won’t want to make them. They will feel important now that they have a job and an actual role in the community. Hopefully, this will be enough for them to realize that they can do more in their life than screw it up.
Besides the fact of how getting a job would benefit the teenager in many ways, lets focus on how else this could be a helpful. Employing a younger teenager than the law currently allows, would mean more citizens would be able to get a job, and therefore, receive a paycheck. Further than using this money for the teenager’s personal enjoyment, they might choose to use it for their family. In fact, according to National Center for Children in Poverty, “…Over 10 million adolescence live in low-income households.” (Wight, Chau). These families may depend on their teenager to help them; it might be the family’s last hope. The family might not be able to wait another year for their fourteen year old daughter to get a job, they might need help right then.
Even if the families can support their children enough, they might not have extra money to just give out to their youth, in order for them to have fun. That money might have to be used for the week’s food supply. What kind of teenager could take their parents money, knowing, it is the last of the dwindling supply? I doubt anyone could. However, if they could make their own money from employment, this situation would never have to occur.
So, why would it be fair to exclude teenagers from getting a job? Does civilization want teenagers to grow up in a world where they don’t have another option? Are we hereby doomed to no future? That should not be an option. We should be able to get experience in having a job younger than the law is allowing us to. You absolutely cannot argue with the idea of middle school students being given more responsibility, and from that, teaching them life skills they will use for the rest of their lives!
The adolescence of today, are tomorrow’s leaders, so why not allow us to make an impact in society today, so we are prepared for tomorrow? There are so many reasons why we should be allowed to start work at an earlier age both benefiting ourselves, as well as family. We can now enjoy our youth with the money we will earn and spend it on activities that are productive, rather destructive.
The possibility of excellence and preparation widens to no end for us teenagers, if we were just allowed to get a job! As John F. Kennedy himself says, “The one unchangeable certainty is that nothing is certain or unchangeable.”( Lion) An opportunity for change is coming, a beneficial change for everyone; a lower age standard for getting a job. Until that day comes where the change will prevail, we will wait, and fight for our chance to exceed in life. This will be made our job, and we hope to soon be promoted to the stage, where you too, can see how much better life would be if we were able to get a job… now!

The author's comments:
I really hope that we as a society, all members of our wonderful planet Earth, will learn from this. We will realize that this new generation of kids will grow up and make such an impact. Letting them start now, is the least we can do to repay them in advancve for their future duties.

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