Child Labor in Victorian England
"The report described the children as Chained, belted, harnessed like dogs
black, saturated with wet, and more than half-naked, crawling upon their hands and knees, and dragging their heavy loads behind them'" (Yancey 34). This quote from Ivor Brown probably best describes the strenuous work preformed by a child laborer during the Victorian Era. Child laborers played an important part in developing the country's economy. Children, one of the main sources of labor in Victorian England, endured less than adequate living and working conditions. During the Victorian Period children were good sources of labor. Beginning work as young as six or seven employers saw many benefits to hiring children (Yancey 33). Adolescents were a significant part of the labor force because they could be paid lower wages (Cody). Also their naturally small and nimble hands and bodies were easily maneuverable. Employers most often hired children over adults because kids were powerless and would not revolt (Yancey 33). Economic conditions forced poor children into working, sometimes as hard and long as their parents (Cody). Essential to the economy, Parliament supported child labor saying a child was more useful to his family working (Altick 249).
Child laborers led very hard and grossly disgusting lives of filth. Generally the living quarters of laborers were poorly built, rotting, even falling down, with little ventilation. There was no indoor plumbing causing people to throw human waste on unpaved streets. Houses were often crowded and rented by the room or even by the corner. Dirty floors and leaky roofs did not stop people from living in over crowded basements and attics (McMurtry 159). The majority of the day of young workers was spent without their family. The factory system split up families for as much as fourteen hours. The time they did have together was either spent eating or sleeping. Young daughters developed no housewife skills...
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