Law Students Discuss Human Rights

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Professor Dorothea Beane and her law class meet at Thurgood Marshall Middle School before the teach-in

Professor Dorothea Beane and her law class meet at Thurgood Marshall Middle School before the teach-in. Click for high-resolution image.

During the same week that many people visited American grade schools as part of the Great American Teach-In, Stetson University College of Law professor Dorothea Beane and her law class returned to Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School for an annual discussion of human rights issues on Nov. 15.

Child labor, school shortages and the one-child law in China were the topics of discussion for instructor Jessica Salinas’ gifted class of 18 middle schoolers.

“We are presenting our teach-in in the hopes that we can learn from one another,” Professor Beane told the sixth-graders after introducing her class of 10 Stetson Law students.

The law students started the class off with a documentary film about children working in agricultural fields in the U.S. The film interviewed children who worked long, physically exhausting hours while being exposed to pesticides. The sixth-graders then discussed an exemption in the Fair Labor Standards Act which allows children to work legally in agriculture in our country.

The students continued their discussion of child labor issues outside the U.S. The middle school class broke into three groups to talk about the dangers of child labor and inadequate access to education in China. One student group cut out a shirt from a paper pattern and assembled it while a stop watch clicked, illustrating the demands placed on Chinese children in clothing factories.

“We think that middle schoolers talk a lot to each other about what’s important to them, and they talk to their families about what’s important to them, and we think that the greatest impediment to spreading human rights is people aren’t talking enough about it,” Professor Beane told the sixth-graders.

“We hope that you will continue the conversation with your friends and with your families because we think it’s important and important enough for us to take a day to spend with you,” Professor Beane told the students.

Beane is the founder of Stetson Law’s Summer Abroad Program in The Hague, Netherlands. She speaks and writes frequently on the role of international tribunals and co-directs Stetson’s Institute for Caribbean Law and Policy.