University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Was Child Labour Necessary During the Industrial Revolution?
Child labour was important in factories. For reasons such as factory could pay them less than an adult for similar work, also, the children could fit their hands into small places to fix little things or work in ways adults couldn’t making it seem more beneficial. Although it seemed beneficial, it was important to stop child labour because it kept children out of school. This meant they didn’t get a proper education and possibly get a better job. The children, more than often, got badly injured and were no longer able work, usually for the rest of their lives. They were also more responsive to illnesses.
In my opinion, I don’t think it was right, but nor do I think it was entirely wrong. Sure, children shouldn’t be working at a young age, especially if it affects their life in the long run. But around that time, they hardly had any healthy adults anyway. They needed people to help with the work and they needed that work to help them live. But that backfires, because at the same time as trying to help everyone live, they’re slowly killing themselves. Some factories had ridiculous fumes that would give the children horrible diseases or things like that. Possibly lung cancer, so many bad things could happen. They would have got horrible injuries and affected how the rest of their lives would be. And what about the germs? The horrible bacteria that would get into their bloodstream if they got a cut. Fitting their hands into tiny spaces gave the cuts and grazes that would let all the bacteria and pollution just flood in. That obviously isn’t going to be good for them at all.
“The Industrial Revolution led to a population increase, but the chances of surviving childhood did not improve throughout the Industrial Revolution (although infant mortality rates were reduced markedly). There was still limited opportunity for education, and children were expected to work. Employers could pay a child less than an adult even though their productivity was comparable; there was no need for strength to operate an industrial machine, and since the industrial system was completely new there were no experienced adult labourers. This made child labour the labour of choice for manufacturing in the early phases of the Industrial Revolution between the 18th and 19th centuries. In England and Scotland in 1788, two-thirds of the workers in 143 water-powered cotton mills were described as children.”
Child labour is way cheaper than adult labour. Because it shows the same productivity, manufacturers often choose children as workers. There was no need for strength in operating industrial machinery. There were also no experienced adult labourers because all the machines were entirely new.
“In coal mines, children began work at the age of five and generally died before the age of 25. They would crawl through tunnels too narrow and low for adults, many working long hours from 4 am until 5 pm. Conditions in the mines were dangerous, with some children killed when they dozed off and fell into the path of the carts, while others died from gas explosions. Many children developed lung cancer and other diseases.”
“Nothing’s wrong with child labour. Many countries still have it and they get along just fine.” There are a lot of different opinions, and I don’t fully disagree with any of them. It really does depend on what kind of child labour you’re talking about. It depends what factory and what jobs they have to do in each factory. In most cases, the younger the child is, the easier and less dangerous the job is.