Online Program

Employment of middle school students: Findings from the Massachusetts youth health survey, 2009

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 1:02 p.m. - 1:18 p.m.

Beatriz Vautin, MPH, Young Workers Injury Surveillance and Prevention Project, MA Department of Public Health, Boston, MA
Sara Rattigan, MS, Occupational Health Surveillance Program, MA Department of Public Health, Boston, MA
Letitia Davis, ScD, Occupational Health Surveillance Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston, MA
Introduction: Most research on youth employment has focused on 16-18 years olds. Some studies indicate younger teens and pre-teens also work, but little information about where they work is available. Methods: To learn more about employment among younger children, we incorporated questions about work for pay, other than yard work or babysitting, and type of workplace in the 2009 Massachusetts Youth Health Survey, conducted in a random sample of middle and high schools and classrooms within schools in Massachusetts. Narrative text responses describing type of workplace were reviewed to better characterize where students work and assess students' understanding of the initial question. Data were collected from 2,859 students from grades 6 - 8 in 69 schools and weighted to reflect the distribution of students statewide. Results: Eighteen percent (estimated 37,321students) reported working for pay in the past year. Most common workplaces were: other (52%), recreation or entertainment (12%), landscaping company (10%), restaurant (9%), and construction site (7%). In a crude analysis of 422 surveys with narratives describing work, the most common response was paper route (15%), followed by sports-related (9%), miscellaneous work for a neighbor (9%), shoveling (7%), and dog walking (6%). Eleven percent listed babysitting, yard work, or work for a family member. Discussion:. Despite laws prohibiting most work under age 14, many middle school students are working. Outreach about child labor laws and health and safety for students and parents should begin before high school. Refinement of employment questions, with cognitive testing with middle school students, is needed.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Occupational health and safety
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Describe the employement patterns of middle school students in Massachusetts and the implications for outreach about Child Labor Laws.

Keyword(s): Adolescent Health, Occupational Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted research on young worker health and safety for over 20 years and I am PI on the Teens at Work Injury Surveillance and Prevention Project in Massachusetts.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.