Letters from Academy School

Kids should go to school, not to work

It's hard to believe that child labor is still going on after all these years. Child labor is when children are forced to work instead of going to school. These children have no power to choose to go to school, and are faced with brutal conditions. You might not think this is important, but think back to when you were a child. You probably were not forced to work. Although if you lived in a poor developing country, it is very possible that you would be forced into work, and swept into child labor. The same problem takes place now. In many other places children are being forced to work. Learning how children in child labor are treated, I want to stop it. They work for long hours, and they can get injured. The children who work in these factories do not get an education. The families and generations after them will have no other options than child labor. They will not be qualified to get any other jobs, because they didn't get an education. Hundreds of years have gone by, and child labor still exists. It hurts and kills children. In most developing countries child labor continues. It impacts thousands of children throughout the world. It does the world no good if child labor is in it. We should help stop child labor.

Did you know that almost every day you carry the weight of child labor on your shoulders? If you look at the tags on your clothes right now, they were most likely made in developing countries. In these developing countries, children most likely are working to make those clothes. These children will, or probably already have gotten an illness or will possibly die because of the horrid conditions in the factories, which I will talk about later in this letter. You might not care about this, but think of your children or children you know. Now imagine them in a factory making your clothes, and getting sick or hurt. You would want to make it stop. You would want to stop child labor.

I strongly believe that children and adults should think back to their childhood and remember it as something happy, and not remember it as working in a factory where kids are being forced to work against their own will. I will say more about these horrible illnesses and injuries later in my letter. According to Stop Child Labor — The Child Labor Coalition, "Every day millions of children in India wake up with nothing to look forward to except hours of backbreaking labor ... being forced to work ... up to 18 hours a day." Children as young as 5 are being kept from school to work. How can we expect children to be happy if they have to work in bad conditions 18 hours a day? Should we expect young children to work for more than half the day, and possibly getting sick or getting horrible injuries? That is what happens, and we need to make it stop. Too many children are working in forced child labor. We shouldn't have any child labor. According to The United States Department of Labor and IHS CSL news, "Millions, specifically 85 million, children are working in the world where there are hazardous conditions." For example, "In Bangladesh there are 7.4 million workers between the ages of 5 and 17." This is crazy. If you are between the ages of 5 and 17 you should be going to school, you should be happy, you should be having fun. Instead, all these children work. Eighty-five million people working is a very big and important problem. In most developing countries, one in every four children are in child labor. We should have zero child labor.

I think a lot about the fact that I am a kid just like those kids working. If I am not forced to work, then neither should other children. According to UNICEF, "In the least developed countries nearly one in every four children (ages 5-14) are engaged in child labor ... Around 13 percent of children in developing countries are involved in child labor." This is crazy because children this age should not be working. They need to go to school. It is shocking to know that 13 percent of children are working. To you, this might not seem like a big problem, but if child labor continues, it could get much worse.

I would like to bring the attention to the fact that children should be kept safe. They should not be exposed to dangerous or hazardous chemicals, and dangerous working conditions in general. According to the International Labour Organization, "... about 22,000 children are being killed at work every year ... an estimated 115,000,000 children are working in dangerous conditions." This is horrible because young children are being killed every year because of the conditions in child labor. Children are going to grow up and become the adults of our world. We want that, don't we? I know I do! You should too!

Some people do not believe that we will ever be able to stop child labor, they think it is too big of a problem to end, but I know we can. According to World Vision, "It is possible to end child labor. The number of child laborers around the world has declined by one-third since 2000. There are 78,000,000 children no longer working in factories." This means that the amount of children being forced to work has decreased by millions. This shows that when people get involved in stopping child labor, the number of children being forced to work decreases. If we get involved, there is the chance that child labor could end. If it is what we really want, if we really devote ourselves to it, we could do it. It might be hard, but together we could end child labor.

If you feel inspired to help right now, there are a few things you can do. First, you could donate money. You may donate to the website www.stopchildlabor.org. Once you are there click the "Take Action" button, and then click "Donate." It will then open up into a new tab called NCL. Fill out the e-form and the amount of money you want to donate, then click "Process my Donation." Once you do this you have donated money, and done a good thing. The organization Stop Child Labor will use that money to feed children in child labor and take care of them. They will also use that money and try to stop child labor. If you don't have the internet, there is another thing you can do. You may write to the president, asking him to stop trading with countries that have child labor, such as China, India, and Bangladesh. You may either type on a 8½-by-11 inch piece of paper in a legible font or handwrite the letter very neatly. It is also very important that include your return address on both the envelope and the letter. Be sure to write The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 20500.

Rosie Carignan

Don't hurt animals

I bring your attention to the topic of animal cruelty. I strongly believe that animal cruelty isn't right. Animal cruelty means that a person is treating an animal badly, such as not giving it enough food and water, or in more severe cases harming the animal. I've grown up with animals and I would hate to see any of them get abused. Imagine that you are a pet at home and your owner abuses and or neglects you. That is what some animals have to go through. The animals can act mean or scared, because they are trying to defend themselves from the abuse.

As a concerned citizen, I think people shouldn't hurt animals. According to The American Humane Association, "People who are violent to people can be violent to animals." This fact is important because it shows that people who are violent will possibly be violent to both animals and people because they might think if it's OK to harm humans, it's OK to harm animals.

If we don't fix this problem, lots of animals will fall victim to cruelty. According to Buzzle, "In 2007, (which was the last study of animal cruelty), there were 1,880 animal cruelty cases." This is surprising because of how many cases of animal cruelty there were in the year 2007. That's a lot of animals in just one year. If we do something, we could cut that in half or make sure less animals get hurt.

I think people should get punished for being cruel to an animal. According to The ASPCA, "If convicted, the smallest fine is $13,000." This fact is surprising because even though it sounds like a lot of money, it's rare that people are convicted of this crime. The smallest amount of money is still a big amount to pay for hurting an animal.

You may think that an animal is just an animal, and they are not as smart, or don't have emotions like humans. I say animals are more capable of feeling emotions than people say they are. According to Time Magazine, "The research proves, animals are capable of reflection, bliss, worry and more." This proves me right because animals are smarter and feel more than everyone says they are, not just a bunch of stupid animals.

You can do something to help me stop animal cruelty. You could donate at www.humanesociety.org. If you do, go to the top of the site, click on donate, fill out your information and how much you want to donate and enter it. You should donate to the Humane Society because they help animals who are abused. They provide care and services to more than 100,000 animals each year. They also educate and train local organizations. They combat against all types of animal cruelty. With your support, they will be able to help more animals that are abused. If you know someone who is cruel to an animal, you can report the case to your local police. They can help by taking the animal and making the person go to jail, counseling, or do community service.

Rylee Edson

A worrying trend

In light of the fact that college prices are steadily rising, and therefore fewer people are able to afford a decent college education, I request that you devote a few minutes of your time to reading this letter.

The rise in college prices which I have alluded to above is due to state education funding cuts, and is even more of an issue than you might think. I plan on attending college when I am of sufficient age; but as it is nearly seven years in my future, the prospect was, at first, not a very worrying one. However, when one takes into account that over the last thirty years, in state college prices have risen from just under $10,000 a year to over $30,000 a year, and are showing no signs of ceasing to rise, the prospect becomes considerably more worrying.

Not only are college tuition fees rising rapidly, but they are actually rising faster for the poor than the rich. Taking loans can help, but not indefinitely — not only does the paying back of loans harm graduates' financial lives, it may actually be harming the economy. Many of you who are reading this will have children. Some of them will be approaching an age where college is a reality. If they plan to attend college, you will have to assist them in paying. Not all of you will have the money to do so easily, and college tuition fees are still rising. If you choose not to assist in paying, your child will have to take out loans, loans which they will be paying off for the rest of their lives.

College tuition fees are much too high to be easily affordable by the general public, and, in order to get a well-paying job, college education is necessary. Over a mere thirty years, state college prices have climbed upwards by almost $20,000, and are still rising swiftly. This bodes ill not only for anyone planning to attend college, but also for the parents of those people, who must choose between helping to pay or letting their child take loans, which could potentially be crippling to the parents or the child, or both.

The United States is one of the only places to even charge college tuition fees in the developed world. In many places, such as Germany, semester fees are around $600 dollars when they are charged at all, while here in the United States, we must labor to pay the $30,000 dollars required simply to enter college. While most of the world is working to make college more accessible to the general public, here in the U.S., we are doing the exact opposite. Although colleges are making more money, less and less people can afford to attend, which is probably not the intended effect.

Some argue that people are making more money than they once did, and colleges can afford to charge more. However, college tuitions are rising much faster than incomes. Though it is true that people are making more money, they are certainly not earning enough to make paying for college easy. And if one chose to take loans, similar — if not worse — difficulties can ensue. Because they are busy paying off loans, college graduates can ill afford to buy new cars, or move into their own house once they have a family. This creates less demands for such things, and allows for smaller retirement savings, both of which have a negative effect on the economy.

President Obama recently proposed that community college should be tuition free. This would help as many as nine million students and be open to colleges that offer a four year degree or training programs. Although this is an enormous step towards making college affordable, and would be miraculous if it should happen, tuition accounts for only one fifth of the cost of attending a college. There is also housing, books, transportation, and more to contend with.

This does not mean that all hope should be abandoned, just that there is more work to be done. If reading this piece has left you with any motivation to do something, your help would be welcome. The easiest and least time consuming way to help would be to write to the Vermont State House at 115 State Street, Montpelier, VT, 05633, telling them your (or perhaps only my) grievances and asking if anything could be done to help. Many small efforts, made by many people, could, in theory, bring about a change in college prices. Clearly, as so many colleges in other parts of the world are tuition free, such a thing is by no means an impossibility; if enough people attempt to bring about a change, perhaps change could occur.

State education funding cuts have caused college education prices to rise steadily, but they can be lowered.

Fiona E.M. Goodman

A big problem

As I look at my community, I have noticed racism occurring everywhere, which I find is a serious problem in our community. So I, as fellow member of the community, would like to bring your attention to the topic of racism. Racism is when someone is prejudiced against someone else because of race or skin color, it is technically people discriminating against others. Racism is this prejudice when it is done by the majority group, (who have more power) against a minority group (that doesn't have as much power) in that society. It is when the people who have the power in a society treats a group of people differently and oppressively because of race.

I chose racism as my topic because I think racism is a big problem. I have witnessed it happening to my peers. Most people think that racism isn't a problem because of the Civil Rights Movement and having gained supposed equal rights for people of color during it, but hatred against others just didn't stop because of this movement, even though a lot was gained. I want people to be more aware of racism and work to end it. I care about this topic because this hatred against others will get in the way of true peace. Racism can also cause discrimination toward young people that I care about and you care about. Plus, it can keep groups of people from being able to have the same rights as everyone else, which is injustice!

Racism affects adults mostly, but you may not know, it has a great impact on children as well. Racism is a big problem that affects even elementary school students. According to The Australian Commission Team, A study of over 800 students found that racism had a huge mental impact on them. These mental impacts include ongoing feelings of anger and depression, headaches, trembling, the feeling of not wanting to go to school, and having no trust in anybody apart from his or her family.

If you're a parent, your child might have experienced racism in school and that could have a great impact on them. They could be more afraid of going to school so they'd get no education, or they could have depression which could end up to be a suicidal problem. It could affect children's future, and the white community should stop that from happening because they have more power in the society. It's the white community that isn't doing enough about it, so they should start doing something to stop racism instead of doing little or supporting it.

Whites are usually favored in the communities in the U.S. Police and other officers sometimes treat black people differently than white people when it comes to being arrested. According to Dosomething.org, "Studies show that police are more likely to pull over and frisk Blacks and Latinos than Whites ... 80 percent of the stops made were blacks and Latinos and 85 percent of those people were frisked, compared to a mere 8 percent of white people stopped." This is a very surprising fact because police are supposed to serve the citizens fairly and treat people equally. They're supposed to stop things like racism, not support it. Instead, some policemen are being racist and not doing their jobs correctly, which makes the Blacks, and Latinos feel awful whenever they see a police officer, that the officer would be allowed to harass them instead of protect them.

Blacks and Latinos are more likely to be imprisoned than Whites. According to Sophia Kerby, "One in every 15 African Americans and one in every 36 Hispanic men are incarcerated in comparison to one in every 106 White men." This is surprising because this is creating injustice, and is not fair. We need to make the world peaceful, so we have to start by making everything fair for everyone.

Now, I know some of you might be thinking, well racism isn't really a serious problem anymore due to the Civil Rights Movement and what you are saying is a bunch of baloney. But, I can assure you that racism is still a problem, and many people don't think it is. In reality, though the movement affected many people, but not all, because even though many gains were made by the Civil Rights Movement, it did not change people's prejudices and stereotypes and the people who were in power still found ways to disempower people of color and treat them differently. Then came the chain, the older generation passing their prejudice and hate to the next generation, and racism still continues.

Racism is so embedded in our society that even the government has many policies that favor white people over people of different races. According to Fair Vote, "African Americans make up over 12 percent of the population of America, but there are only 42 black delegates in the US House, and only one black Senator." This means there are only 42 blacks in the House of Representatives which isn't even 12 percent of the entire house. Forty-two out of 435 Representatives are black? That is injustice. The people electing the representatives are favoring the other races or black candidates just don't have the money and influence to run good campaigns against white nominees. White men have became richer and numbers of wealthy blacks haves dropped and they can't run campaigns. This is still a problem that needs to be solved immediately. If there are not more people of color in the government, then issues that concern these communities would not be addressed.

Now, I know some of you might say, so now what? We got inspired, but what can we do? I found some things you can do to help abolish racism. You can quickly go on to the internet and check out http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/. There you can enter your zip code, "05301," into the little text box, then click the "find your rep" by zip" button, and it'll show you your representative. Then click the small envelope button below the representative's political party. Once you click the button, it'll lead you to a page that wants you to type your zip code again, so type it in, and then click the "go to form button after." When you click that button, it'll send you to a page where you can easily e-mail him. Tell him to help abolish racism or check out my letter if possible. This will help by giving us a chance that our representative will help create laws against racism in the justice system.

You can also try to honor the feelings and opinions of different color people in discussions, treat them as your friends. People usually treat different color people differently. They make a mistake by blurting out racist comments about different color people, not knowing it is offensive to them. Making that mistake could probably make someone feel bad and not safe and they will probably not want to be your friend, which we don't want. So don't make that mistake! Now, maybe you might say, how will this do anything? Well, it helps abolish racism. It helps by honoring people and creating equality in conversations and in the communities. It also creates trust between everyone, which makes people feel safer and happier. Try some of those out and see the results!

There are more examples of racism everywhere, but racism is sometimes so hidden we are not always aware of it and getting educated about these issues helps to stop prejudice and stereotypes from continuing. So understand that there are a lot more different examples of racism everywhere, but they are hidden from us and hard to recognize. We can abolish of racism, as long as we work together.

Eric Lin


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