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Industrial Revolution & Child Labour

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Industrial Revolution & Child Labour. Role of Children During the Industrial Revolution .

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role of children during the industrial revolution
Role of Children During the Industrial Revolution
  • At the start of the industrial Revolution there was no legislation about working conditions in mills, factories or other industrial plants. They simply had not been needed before. As factories spread rapidly the owners of mills, mines and other forms of industry needed large numbers of workers and they didn't want to have to pay them a high wage.
Children were the ideal employees therefore! They were cheap, weren't big enough or educated enough to argue or complain and were small enough to fit between tight fitting machinery that adults couldn't get between. Children soon ended up working in all types of industry.
common jobs for children
Common Jobs for Children
  • Working in factories-like cotton mills
  • Working in the coal mines
  • Chimney Sweepers
1 children working in factories
1.Children Working In Factories

The youngest children in the textile factories were usually employed as scavengers and piecers. Piecers had to lean over the spinning-machine to repair the broken threads. Scavengers had to pick up the loose cotton from under the machinery. This was extremely dangerous as the children were expected to carry out the task while the machine was still working.

2 child labour in the coal mines
2.Child Labour in the Coal Mines

The coal mines were dangerous places where roofs sometimes caved in, explosions happened and workers got all sorts of injuries. There were very few safety rules. Cutting and moving coal which machines do nowadays was done by men, women and children.

The younger children often worked as "trappers" who worked trap doors. They sat in a hole hollowed out for them and held a string which was fastened to the door. When they heard the coal wagons coming they had to open the door by pulling a string. This job was one of the easiest down the mine but it was very lonely and the place were they sat was usually damp and draughty.     Older children might be employed as "coal bearers" carrying loads of coal on their backs in big baskets.
chimney sweeps
Chimney Sweeps
  • Because children are so small they were the perfect size for cleaning chimneys.
  • Children were forced through the narrow winding passages of chimneys in large houses. When they first started at between five and ten years old, children suffered many cuts, grazes and bruises on their knees, elbows and thighs however after months of suffering their skin became hardened.
  • Many children were send down the chimney and never made it back out…got suck there.
wages and hours
Wages and Hours
  • Children as young as six years old during the industrial revolution worked hard hours for little or no pay. Children sometimes worked up to 19 hours a day, with a one-hour total break.
  • Children were paid only a fraction of what an adult would get, and sometimes factory owners would get away with paying them nothing. Orphans were the ones subject to this slave-like labour.
  • The factory owners justified their absence of payroll by saying that they gave the orphans food, shelter, and clothing, all of which were far below par.
treatment of child labourers
Treatment of Child Labourers
  • The treatment of children in factories was often cruel and unusual, and the children's safety was generally neglected.
  • The people who the children served would beat them, verbally abuse them, and take no consideration for their safety.
oliver twist video
Oliver Twist Video
You may wonder why these children were not at school, this is simply because education in the early 18th century was not compulsory and in the majority of cases schools were expensive to send a child to, so working class families couldn't afford to send children there. Parents were quite willing to let children work in mills and factories as it provided the family with a higher income: one consequence of this was a high birth rate.
law and regulation changes
Law and Regulation Changes
  • 1833 Factory Act: The basic act was as follows:
    • No child workers under 9 years of age.
    • Employers must have a medical or age certificate for child workers.
    • Children between the ages of 9-13 to work no more than 9 hours a day.
    • Children between 13-18 to work no more than 12 hours a day.
    • Children are not to work at night.
    • Two hours schooling each day for children.
    • Four factory inspectors appointed to enforce the law throughout the whole of the country. However, the passing of this Act did not mean that overnight the mistreatment of children stopped.
The Mines Act was passed by the Government in 1842 forbidding the employment of women and girls and all boys under the age of 10 from working underground. Later it became illegal for a boy under 12 to work down a mine.
  • The new acts did not change child labour conditions instantaneously it tool a while before it was put into practice and a lot of factories would still employ young children but would simply hide from the inspectors