The Plank

Child Labor Laws 2.0

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This grotesque Jon-and-Kate spectacle (divorce? now there's a shocker) has me once again wondering at what point we need to rethink our child labor laws to take into consideration the reality show phenomenon.

I'm only half joking. Once upon a time, parents looking to exploit their little darlings for monetary gain would send them to work in the factories or fields until their little fingers bled. These days, the preferred route is to invite cameras into your home and allow every dysfunctional moment of your family's life to be televised for the amusement of the vouyeuristic masses. While the physical toll is less dramatic than with the sweat-shop model of yore, the emotional cost has yet to be determined--though if all those whacked-out child stars from past generations are any indication, it ain't going to be pretty.

I suppose there's nothing to be done about it. While we're happy to set age limits on when children are allowed to engage in any number of risky activities (driving, smoking, scuba diving, seeing R-rated movies, having sex, owning a gun), no one seems eager to infringe on Mom and Dad's right to turn their offspring into hapless props. Their kids, their business, right?

I just hope Octomom can con someone into paying for all that therapy her camera-ready brood is going to need in a few years. 

--Michelle Cottle

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