How did child labor during the British Industrial Revolution impact what types of child labor we have today?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During the British Industrial Revolution, children went to work in factories and mines, where their small hands and lower wage requirements were prized. The average age at which children went to work was 10. In factories, children worked as piecers, repairing broken thread that went into machines, and as scavengers whose job it was to clean factory machines. In mines, children minded trap doors and carried axes for older workers. In cities, children worked as chimney sweeps and errand boys.

The work was dangerous and dirty, and it provoked a public and literary outcry. For example, several of Charles Dickens's characters, such as Oliver Twist, show the degraded lives of children in the Industrial Revolution. Reformers such as the Lord Ashley, the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, led the crusade for child labor reform in the British Parliament. Two main reform bills were passed--the Factory Act of 1833 and the Mines Act of 1842. The Factory Act set the minimum age of labor at 9 and limited the hours children could work, and Mines Act set the minimum age of mine workers at 10. These acts basically started to end the use of child labor, and that has affected our current-day practice of largely eliminating child labor and regulating labor for the few children who work for wages. 

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