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Extending Childhood In Great Britain Essay

2066 words - 8 pages

For the purpose of this essay, Britain will be concentrated on to discover the historical approach to child labour along with compulsory schooling, plus the effects this had on the lives of children and their families. Dating back from the 1800’s to 2000 is explored to recognize the issues surrounding prolonging childhood in Britain. It was here child labour was initially recognised in factories, mills and mines in the early nineteenth century. In addition to this, the various changes during this period, and the differences between the working class and upper class childhoods compared with today, will be demonstrated. As a result, this essay will describe the changes in the experiences and opinions of childhood to the prolonging of childhood in Britain over the last two hundred years.
Two main causes for the prolonging of childhood in Britain over the last two hundred years seem to be due to the changes in child labour and the education laws. The changes were raising the age limit of when child labour began and shortening their hours, along with lowering the age of when a child should start school, plus raising the leaving age of education and making schooling compulsory to all (Cunningham 2003). Child labour in Britain included working in mines, factories and mills.
Firstly, looking at the initial cause over this period was the age of child labour was raised. Children as young as seven and eight were spending long hour’s underground working in mines and pits and there were no laws regarding children’s employment until the 19th century. The first act to be checked up on and backed with inspection, was the factory act in 1833, then others followed, in 1844 and 1867 (Cunningham 2003). A child could be seen working as a sweep from the age of eight years old in the 1800’s, before child labour for a sweep was raised to age ten in 1821, by the Society of Superceding the Necessity of Climbing Boys. In 1883, the Factory Act prohibited children to work beneath nine years old. By 1891, the age was increased to eleven, although during this time, the Factory Act also agreed to child labour extending to more dangerous labour for a child, such as working in the mines and cartridge making. When working such long hours, fatigue could cause accidents and mistakes could materialize with the kinds of machinery and implements involved (Cunningham 2003). Although child labour could be seen by some parents as keeping their children off the streets and out of discontent, the conditions and hours the children had to work under at such a young age, seem morally unethical. Working class children in the late 1800’s sometimes had to work before school started to facilitate the family financially, whilst their mother’s position was to remain at home. However, the children got immense satisfaction to contributing towards their family needs forming a close relationship within. However, by 1950, teenager’s stance about spending power and ideas transformed as they went to...

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