More than 50% of compulsory school age children working in Cumbria are employed illegally, researchers found. The Child Employment Research Group at Paisley University carried out a study for Cumbria County Council.
Researchers questioned more than 500 year 10 students from secondary schools across the county about their experiences of work.
The council will study the research so it can target resources and work with others to regulate child employment.
The research was carried out in 2004 and is the first time a comprehensive study about child employment has been carried out in the county since the early 1990s. 'Largely ignored'
The report's main findings include that 11% work more than the legal limit of 12 hours per week.
The law does not allow children to begin work before 0700 BST, but 21% started before that time, with 52% not finishing until after 1900 BST, despite that time being the legal limit.
Children are not allowed to work before 13, but 13% began working before then.
Council senior education officer for attendance and exclusion, Stephen Mason, said: "Legislation on child employment is largely ignored.
"We are already ahead of the game here in Cumbria since employing two child employment officers in the county.
"In order to tackle this properly we need to have some base level data on young people's work across the county."
He said the information would allow it to assess the impact of initiatives set up to improve compliance with legislation. BBC News