Child labour has
an extensive history, being prevalent and dominant through many centuries,
across different parts of the world. Child Labour was largely present in the
United States and Canada, but since then has been diminished. However, child labour is still present in countries such as
India, Pakistan, Brazil, and other developing nations.


We would like to expand on Child labour and exploitation that was present in the
United States at the time of the Industrial Revolution and how it was
considered a societal norm, and an integral part of the economy. Child labour was at its peak during the Industrial
Revolution, where children worked for hours upon hours in factories, and lacked basic safety equipment.
Children were used because they could fit into mines and areas of factories
where men couldn’t reach. They were easier to govern as they wouldn’t raise
their voices for human rights violations,
and were paid considerably less. Child labourers
often worked to support their families, and lost their right to an education
doing so. Nineteenth century reformers
fought for the rights of children, and wanted to establish safe working conditions,
and prevent child labour from occurring.
The market crash and the Great Depression was the key factor for the public to
forgo child labor, and the jobs that were available in the depression went to


In the American society of the late 18th
Century, child labor was a societal norm. Children played a valuable part in
the agricultural and handicraft economy. Boys started working from a really
young age, from 10 to 14 years old. Boys worked on the family farms, and were
often a subject of being transported to other farmers to work with. The industrial
revolution brought an end to this form of labor. However, it opened new doors
for children to be exploited through the increased work opportunities in
factories. Children were preferred by businesses over adults because they could
be paid considerably less wages, and was difficult of unions to be established
amongst them.


Education was the primary way for the progression of the
nation, as many educational reformers argued. This led to the establishment of
a minimum wage, and a necessity for school attendance. However, these laws were
not upheld in their entirety, with these laws being established loosely, with
many ways to undermine the conditions that were set. Furthermore, the rising
population of immigrants provided the American society with more child laborers,
as the Irish and other Eastern European people had similar mindset towards child


Since the 1900’s, regulating and eliminating child
labor was one of the main principles of social rectification, lead by the
National Child Labor Committee. Their gradualist ideologies lead them to
withstand opposition, and used effective tactics such as photography to
highlight the immensely deteriorated conditions of workplaces and child
laborers. Other forms of campaigning were also used to alter the political
situation of the country as success heavily relied on it.


Committees forced to pass state legislatures, from
1902 to 1915, confining child labor. However, they faced severe opposition. Constitutional
amendments authorizing federal child labor were passed. Due to
the shifting political climate, many states were unable to endorse this
legislation. The Great Depression served as a catalyst to the child labor reform.
Dire economic situations led to the development of the National Industrial
Recovery Act, which expressively reduced child labor operations. Maximum working
hours were initiated, and children under the age of 16 were not to be hired in the
manufacturing or mining industries. This was primarily the consequence of the
actions undertaken by the child labor committees to substantially reduce child
labor, and due to adults wanting jobs during the Great Depression.


Over the last two centuries, the eradication
of Child labor in the United States is one of the more noteworthy changes in
socio-economic life.