They’re exploring all the grim and nasty jobs that children just like you had to do in the past, from picking up poop to popping up chimneys!
This time they’re exploring the reasons behind why children had to work…
Most parents would rather not send their children to work but needed the money the children earned just in order to survive.
Many parents wanted their children to have education so that they would have a better chance in life. Unlike today, it was quite expensive to send a child to school so only the wealthy could afford to.
Reformers like Lord Shaftesbury believed that children of a young age should not have to work very long hours, or in the dangerous conditions that were typical of work places in the 1840s. Reformers helped bring in laws to improve the working lives of children.
The 1844 Factory Act made it illegal for children under 13 to work more than 6 hours each day, and forced factory owners to make the workplace safer.
Reformers also believed that children should be educated in schools.
The parents of child labourers knew about the terrible places where their children worked as they often worked in the same place. Life was very hard for most working children.
They worked very long hours, starting as early as 5.00am and working through until 7.00pm or even 8.00pm.
Standing up all day caused their bones and joints to deform and children were often left crippled before they were adults. The factories and mines they worked in were also very dangerous places and accidents were common, resulting in injury and sometimes death.
Child workers were also very badly paid. In 1830, a child working in a cotton mill earned just one tenth of an adult’s wages.
Most factory owners and businessmen were very happy to employ children as they did not have to pay them very much, so they could make more profit.
Many industrialists denied that factory work was harmful to children, and some even claimed that factory work was healthy exercise, and that the wages saved the children from starvation!
They were against laws that limited children’s working hours, claiming that they would harm businesses and the economy…
Kids in The Past
Discover what life for children was like throughout the ages
They’re exploring all the grim and nasty jobs that children just like you had to do in the past, from picking up poop to popping up chimneys.
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