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Photo of Sarah Huckabee Sanders beaming next to frowning kids goes viral as child labour laws rolled back

Arkansas’ Youth Hiring Act of 2023 went into effect on 1 August

Kelly Rissman
Wednesday 02 August 2023 15:41 BST
Sarah Huckabee Sanders announces her run for governor of Arkansas

Children under the age of 16 no longer have to obtain permission to work in Arkansas. To mark the day that the child labour law rollback went into effect, social media users circulated a photo of Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders wearing a massive smile - with frowning children sitting beside her.

The photo was taken on 8 March 2023 when Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed an education bill into law. But New York Times reporter Hannah Dreier resurfaced the photo on X – formerly known as Twitter – on Tuesday to highlight another bill that went into effect that day—the “Youth Hiring Act of 2023”—to try to illustrate how kids may be feeling about the new law.

The post drew a wide range of reactions from social media users, from criticism to sarcastic comments.

Orlando Sentinel reporter J.C. Carnahan wrote sarcastically, “The kids look enthused about it. What could go wrong?”

“The kids in this photo look super stoked,” another said similarly, and yet another wrote, “kids look thrilled.”

Another user remarked, “Talk about turn back the clock--good ol’ Huck-a-Buck just returned her state to the early 1900s. Way to go!!”

One user went so far as to say, “They’d rather put little kids to work (because kids will be glad to get any amount of money) than raise the minimum wage.”

Ms Sanders’ communications director spoke to NPR after the governor signed the bill into law in March: “The Governor believes protecting kids is most important, but this permit was an arbitrary burden on parents to get permission from the government for their child to get a job.

She added, “All child labor laws that actually protect children still apply and we expect businesses to comply just as they are required to do now.”

In 2022, the Department of Labor reported that there were 3,876 minors illegally employed; the highest figure in the past 10 years.

A March report by the Economic Policy Institute said that 14 states have either introduced or passed bills that roll back child labour laws.

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