Mg 261 - Child Labor Laws

Topics: Industrial Revolution, Coal, Factory Pages: 14 (2430 words) Published: April 5, 2013
Child Labor Laws

Tracy Roth

Park University


Part I: Introduction

Part II: Background


The Coal Mines

Factory Workers

The Law

Part III: Responsibilities

US Factories Overseas

Part IV: Statistics

Part V: Theoretical Analysis

Part I: Introduction

Child labor has existed since words were being written. The majority of the labor performed

by kids was farming or chores around the house. Child labor typically focuses on abusive

practices such as exploitative factory work; slavery, sale, and trafficking in children; forced or

compulsory labor; and the use of children in prostitution, pornography, drug trafficking, or

anything else that might jeopardize their health, safety, or morals.{1}

Part II: Background


The Coal Mines

If coal was prevalent in the community you lived in then more than not a father was working

in it. If that man had a son then he too would become a part of that mine. In 1885 boys had to

be at least twelve years to work in the coal breakers and fourteen to work inside the mine. At the

tender age of eight, if a father wished, he would obtain an “age blank” or certificate from a mine

inspector, filled in the age he wanted his son to be, and for a fee had that certificate notarized.

These boys would sit on chutes where a mixture of coal, rock, slate, and others sediments came

down and they had to break it up in order for just the coal to flow further; these boys were known

as The Breaker Boys. Needless to say the conditions were horrific for these kids – they would

inhale dust, they worked with machinery that was deafening, and they worked from seven in the

morning to six or six-thirty in the evening.

The breaker boss did not allow these boys to wear gloves, even in the coldest of weather,

because it tampered with their sense of touch and finger movement. If the boss caught a boy

either daydreaming, working too slowly, talking, or even dozing off he might hit you on the

backside with the stick he carried. Other bosses might go as far as to kick a boy in the ribs or

{1}Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th edition, Bryan A. Gerner, Thomson West, 2004 even stomp on their fingers with their hobnailed boots. To retaliate the boys would tease the

boss, throw rock at him, and even go on strike. Since the mining operation ultimately depended

on the boys doing their jobs, striking would shut down the entire operation. This action made

everyone lose money so to get the boys back to work the breaker boss would whip them into

submission. Often times the boys’ fathers would help the boss with this task.

If a boy were to survive working in the breakers he would eventually go on to do other

jobs. Going deep into the mines, for most of them, was considered a paradise because he was

no longer under the control of the breaker boss and was away from the noisy machines. Being a

nipper or door tender was an occupation the youngest of the underground crew held. This was

an important duty because it was part of the tunnel’s ventilation. The boy would listen for the

rumbling approach of mine cars or mules pulling carts and he would have to open the door so not

to cause an accident. If a nipper was found sleeping it would be a disaster and possibly result in


Due to hazardous working conditions, unfair pay, and unscrupulous practices they faced the

mine workers tried to form unions and strike. The miners desired shorter working days, more

pay, better living conditions, safer working conditions, and to end discrimination. The first

documented strike was in 1842 but it did not unit the workers. Smaller strikes were attempted

from 1865 to 1897 but these too faltered because of...

Cited: {1}Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th edition, Bryan A. Gerner, Thomson West, 2004
{2}Growing Up in Coal Country, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Houghton Mifflin Company,
MA, 1996
{3} Factory Girl, Barbara Greenwood, Kids Can Press Ltd, NY, 2007
Environment 14th ed., Boston, MA. McGraw. 2010
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