Changing Childhood

Topics: Childhood, Primary education, Child Labor Pages: 9 (3515 words) Published: April 11, 2014


Student Number: 13043419
Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Childhood Studies and Guidance and Counselling PP0618
Childhood Studies - Changing Childhood (Part B)
(3093 words)

The Industrial Revolution that started in the early 1800s saw great change in the common person’s work life. Economies largely dependent on the primary agriculture industries started to diversify into the secondary manufacturing industries as people moved away from farming for a living to working in factories for regular wages. It was a period of rapid growth for firms in the production sector and job opportunities were ample as factories boomed. These jobs were largely labour intensive and did not require specific sets of skills. Hence, uneducated and untrained people with no prior work experience were readily recruited for work and this included very young children from a background of poverty. Many companies grew quickly as the owners of businesses and factories pushed their work force to improve their yields. Working conditions were neglected in the already accident-prone factories adding to hazards (Ncm.org.uk, 2014). This was more so in the lucrative coal mining industry. In 1815, in one unnamed coal mine 58 deaths out of a total 349 deaths in one year, involved children thirteen years or younger. (Historylearningsite.co.uk, 2014). Today, the Unicef.org (2013) defines childhood as “the time for children to be in school and at play, to grow strong and confident with the love and encouragement of their family and an extended community of caring adults”. It is a sensitive period in which vulnerable children should stay free of fear and be safe guarded. It is of utmost importance to protect them against any type of violation, be it physical abuse or exploitation in any of its forms. Childhood is much more than just the period between birth and the attainment of adulthood, for it moulds one’s entire life. The quality of those childhood years as recorded in archived material becomes key to understanding childhood in the past while serving as a comparison to childhood today. “Instructions From the Central Board of the Children’s Employment Commission to the Sub-Commissioners” (Mitchell, 1998), gives an insight into the issue of child labour and the exploitation of children forced into cheap labour and dangerous jobs. The objective of the article was to persuade high authorities to approve the reviewing of the Factory Act. There were two main factors that were under review, the employment of young persons and the specifics of their job descriptions. The article was written by a particular member of council to other members of council and was written formally and legally, instructing members of the council to gather information on children employed in mines and collieries. The writer also specifically mentioned to take into account the age and number of children employed, the number of working hours, if meals were provided for, the quality of the meals, the nature of the work place and the treatment of the children. After the initial 1833 Factory Act was implemented, a new act in 1870 (The Forster Act) was put in place. The Forster Act attempted to provide elementary education for all children aged 5-13. Prior to this, the state had not taken accountability over the need for basic education. The Act resulted in the first local school boards that could compel attendance. However, many of these local authority-run schools did not make use of the given entitlement. The need for greater action was observed and the act was then improvised in 1879 (Sandon’s Act). It highlighted compulsory elementary education for all children and placed the responsibility on parents to make sure that their children were present at school. The Sandon’s Act also created committees in schools to monitor and enforce attendance. In 1880, the Education Act was then added on with school attendance for children aged between 5 and 10 made compulsory. The Education Act...

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