Media Voices for Children
Cart 0
MVC Banner 1.jpg









1938: Fair Labor Standards Act

Under the Fair Labor Standards act, children under eighteen cannot work certain dangerous jobs, and children under the age of sixteen cannot work during school hours. The Fair Labor Standards Act affected 700,000 workers, and President Franklin Roosevelt called it the most important piece of New Deal legislation since the Social Security Act of 1935. Read more about the act here.

1944: Prince v. Massachusetts

Sarah Prince, a Jehovah's Witness in Massachusetts was convicted for violating child labor laws when she brought a nine-year old into a downtown area to preach on the streets.  The U.S. Supreme Court held that the government has broad authority to regulate the actions and treatment of children. Parental authority is not absolute and can be permissibly restricted if doing so is in the interests of a child's welfare. While children share many of the rights of adults, they face different potential harms from similar activities. Read more about the case here.

1974: Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act

In 1974 Congress passed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, which created the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect and allocated federal funding to states in support of prevention, assessment, investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse. It also provides grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations for demonstration programs and projects. Read more about it here.

1978: Indian Child Welfare Act

The ICWA was enacted in 1978 because of the disproportionately high rate of removal of indigenous children from their homes. Before enactment, as many as 25 to 35 percent of all indiginous children in the United Staes were being removed from their homes and placed in indigenous homes. In some cases, the Bureau of Indian Affairs was found to be paying the states to remove indiginous children and to place them with non-indiginous families and religious groups. With hopes to remedy this, in 1978 Congress passed the ICWA, which allows tribes exclusive jurisdiction over child custody proceedings cases. Read more about the ICWA here.

1997: Adoption and Safe Families Act

The ASFA was enacted in an attempt to correct problems that were inherent in the foster care system that deterred the adoption of children with special needs. Many of these problems had stemmed from an earlier bill, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, although they had not been anticipated when that law was passed, as states decided to interpret that law as requiring biological families be kept together no matter what. The ASFA marked a fundamental change to child welfare thinking, shifting the emphasis towards children's health and safety concerns and away from a policy of reuniting children with their birth parents without regard to prior abusiveness. Read the New York Times report on the ASFA here.


1789: Declaration of the Rights of Man

Passed during the French Revolution as a collaboration between General Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of the Rights of Man became a formative document in the history of human rights. The declaration defines a single set of individual and collective rights for all men. Influenced by the doctrine of natural rights, these rights are held to be universal.

Read the Declaration here.

1959: The U.N. Declaration on the Rights of the Child

In 1924, the League of Nations drafted the first human rights document approved by an inter-governmental institution. After considering a number of options, including that of drafting an entirely new declaration, the United Nations resolved in 1946 to adopt the document, in a much expanded version, as its own statement of children's rights. 

Read the Declaration here.

1973: Minimum Age Convention (No. 138)

Adopted in 1973 by the International Labour Organization, the Minimum Age Convention requires ratifying states to pursue a national policy designed to ensure the effective abolition of child labour and to raise progressively the minimum age for admission to employment or work. The convention (number C138 of ILO) replaced several similar ILO conventions in specific fields of labour.

Read the full text of the convention here.

1999: Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No. 182)

The Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, known in short as the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, was adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 1999 as ILO Convention No 182. By ratifying this Convention No. 182, a country commits itself to taking immediate action to prohibit and eliminate the worst forms of child labour. The ILO's International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) is responsible for assisting countries in this regard as well as monitoring compliance. 

Read the full text of the convention here.

2011: Convention on Domestic Workers (No. 189)

The Convention on Domestic Workers, formally the Convention concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers is a convention setting labour standards for domestic workers.  The main rights given to domestic workers as decent work are daily and weekly rest hours, entitlement to minimum wage, and to choose the place where they live and spend their leave. Ratifying states parties also take protective measures against violence and should enforce a minimum age which is consistent with the minimum age at other types of employment. 

Read the full text of the convention here