The pros and cons of working under age 16
By Ella Bradley
On any given day in East Lyme, people can see many East Lyme high schoolers working jobs at places like Tri-Town or Illiano’s. Most students get a job at the age of 16 and up, but some are lucky enough to work earlier at a younger age.
ELHS sophomore Kylee Santos, 15 years old, has two jobs. Since the age of 12, she has been babysitting her neighbor’s two children. Of course the well-earned money is sufficient, but “it [working with kids] is also a stress reliever sometimes and it’s like having a second family,” said Santos.
“One difficulty is that I can’t drive, so I have to make arrangements with my family or the family I’m babysitting for,” said Santos.
Preschool teacher, Laura Adams believes that a job is helpful in teaching work ethic at a younger age.
“As an example, when you have a young child you teach them responsibility through chores and as they mature, you can teach them the responsibilities of a job,” said Adams.
Sophomore Rose Bellody, age 15, also helps out with the children when Santos isn’t available. She watches them about two times every two weeks.
“It helps out because I get the experience to work with kids because I want to work with kids in the future,” said Bellody.
Victoria Thompson, the mother of the children Santos and Bellody babysit for and also a science teacher at ELHS, thinks that it’s beneficial to have a job under 16. They can learn responsibility and earn independence, said Thompson. She thinks that parents are able to trust their children more, after knowing they can handle a bigger responsibility.
“The ability to plan the logistics of getting to and from your job can be challenging, but that’s part of the learning process too,” said Thompson.
Child Labor Regulations state that teens ages 14-15 can work in agriculture, hospitals, convalescent homes, and hotels, but can not work for jobs in food service or laundry. Connecticut Labor Laws do not permit family business exemptions. Teens also have restrictions of only working between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. when school is in session, and when school is out they can work until 9 p.m. Labor statistics qualifies youth as 16 to 21, leaving data for ages 15 and under limited. This means more data is available for 16 and up. Teens 14-15 may not need work permits, but ages 16 and over are required to have them.
In addition to babysitting, Santos also works at Four Mile River Farm. She is family friends with the workers and works at the farmers market and farm stand. She has worked here since age 13.
“I am grateful for the opportunity because I could not work for anyone nicer. They are the best people to work for,” said Santos.
Santos also has to focus on academics. She has to stay on top of schoolwork and sports.
“Since I’m not 16 yet, this job helps me to get prepared for the next years to come.”
Helping me get ready for a real job,” said one 15 year old sophomore working at a local recreational club.
These jobs helps these students to understand what a job is like and how to prepare for it. Overall, they enjoy the experiences and are still learning in this process.