Child Labour In The 18th Century

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In the past, children played a significant role in the workforce. Whether it be working as servants, apprentices or simply assisting around the house or on the farm, children did a significant amount of work. These acts of obedience definitely made a difference, but child labor was taken to a whole new extreme at the end of the eighteenth century. During this time, the people of Britain were desperate to find jobs, especially those with families. The income that was needed depended on the size of these families. In most cases, every family member, including the children were forced to work, in order to make ends meet. Because many of the adults and children were inexperienced and or unskilled, the owners of factories were able to run things …show more content…
These children were called “parish apprentices” (Living). When the work that needed to be done began to increase, the number of workers that were needed also increased. This created an opening that allowed the factory owners to work more children. At this point, work was not optional for most children. Unfortunetly, the majority of children also lost the opportunity of having an education. David Cody states that “a family would not be able to support itself if the children were not employed”. Though having children in the workplace may not have been ideal, most families could not afford to keep their children out of work. In addition, factory owners found it much easier to control kids, rather than adults. Often times, adults gathered together to create unions or strike (Introduction). To the owners’ advantage, it was highly unlikely that children would try either. Also, children could be paid much less than adults. Since machines were created that were easier to operate, the strength and skill of men was no longer needed, and children became the preferred employees (Landow). Because the machinery became much less difficult, young children were able to do simple, repetitive tasks all day. Children were also capabe of fitting into smaller, tighter places because they were smaller in size (Introduction). An example of a task that might have been given to the children is …show more content…
The first few acts were installed in hopes of progress, but not always enforced. Some examples of these are the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act, which took place in 1802, and Robert Owen’s factrory act, which took place in 1819. The first was put into motion in order to work only apprentices, have a maximum of a twelve hour shift and have decent medical treatment (Living). The second kept to the twelve hour shifts, but stated that no child under the age of nine could work (Living). It was not until the Lord Ashley’s factory act of 1833 that these laws were actually enforced. This act stated that no child under the age of thirteen could work more than nine hours a day and must attend school part-time (Bloy). Though the first few acts may have seemed like they were not of much help, they were most definitely the start of the progression.
The children who lived through the industrial revolution were, in my eyes, some of the strongest people alive. To grow up in such unstable households, be forced to give up an education and simply lose the beauty of a normal, innocent childhood is truly difficult to even imagine. Grateful is the word that comes to mind when I think of my childhood compared to those of the children of the revolution. They were truly admiral

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