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Child Labor In America Essay

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Francis Truncale
USSO 10100

While child labor has existed for much of America’s history, it is not until the industrial revolution, where changes in perception of childhood and adolescence took place, that it is seen as a social problem; combined with deplorable working conditions, this led to reforms that were seen as necessary for the welfare of children. To understand this, it is important to know the typical lives of children in preindustrial society. Prior to the industrial revolution, children were employed without social backlash. In preindustrial society, the household was the center of production and consumption. As a result, children worked within the household or on a family farm at this time . At this time, children received their education in the home from their parents. Children’s work was integrated with their education, changing with the seasons . However, this does not evoke the same negative thoughts as with factory work. In advanced industrial society, production is separated from consumption, therefore, out of the household. Production becomes a marketable item, which makes labor a commodity . When child labor is treated as a commodity, rather than a parent-controlled entryway to adulthood, problems
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According to the Children’s Bureau, though law prohibited children under 14 from working in factories, they did factory work at home . Minors under 16 did overtime work at home, which was used to get around the legal limited hours of work. Poor lighting conditions in the home led to children straining their eyes, developing sores, callouses, blisters, cuts, and bruises. Children injured in home work were not entitled to workmen’s compensation. Additionally, teachers complained of children coming to school tired due to the home work, which led to one-tenth of 9-13 year old students receiving school grades that were 2 or more years below the average
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