A mother from Woodinville, Wash., says that the cops showed up concerned that she might be violating child-labor laws because her nine-year-old daughter had offered to do housework for neighbors.
Christina Behar told Reason that she had posted an advertisement on behalf of her daughter Sarah, offering Sarah’s services as a mother’s helper. The ad, which was posted on a neighborhood website, stated:
Hello! My almost 10-year old is available as a mother’s helper. She is the oldest of three and is quite capable. She can fold and put away laundry, sweep, set tables, clean dishes, take out the trash, make beds, vacuum, make light meals, and keep your kiddo busy. We are a homeschool family so she has a flexible schedule. Please message me if you are interested in meeting with us.
According to Behar, it was only six hours later that the sheriff showed up at her door.
“He was embarrassed and apologetic but said he had to do a welfare to check to make sure I wasn’t running a sweatshop!” Behar said in a letter to Reason. “Apparently the ad generated multiple phone calls from paranoid neighbors thinking I was using my child as a slave.”
Behar said she found the whole thing to be completely ridiculous, because she herself had worked in a church nursery with infants when she was nine and was “babysitting alone by 11.”
“All those things would probably violate our state’s child labor laws today,” she wrote. “It’s a shame that our culture has resorted to this paranoia.”
“It’s robbing our children of the pride that learning skills and hard work bring,” she continued. “I’m keeping the ad up.”
Behar is right — this whole thing is completely and totally insane. Honestly, I can’t believe that a simple ad from a nine-year-old wanting to do a little work even generated a single phone call in the first place. Who are these people? According to Behar, the cop even left “with a warning” that she “should never post anything about [her] child wanting payment for her services.” I just have to ask: Why? I’m glad that no one was there to “protect” me from babysitting for the neighbors when I was a kid. It was a great way to take on some responsibility and make a little bit of money, and I am proud to report that I have suffered absolutely no traumatic consequences as a result of it. None at all! If a child wants to make a little bit of money helping out the neighbors, then so what? That’s far from a situation where the police need to intervene, because it’s not like there’s a victim. In fact, everybody wins: The neighbors get the help they want, and the child gets a little bit of cash and the valuable life experience that comes with having some responsibility.