Children In The Industrial Revolution

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Hypothesis: The children of the British Industrial Revolution were victims of the era because of the harsh working conditions and unsanitary and poor quality of life during the 19th century despite the reforms introduced. Introduction: During the 19th century, Britain underwent a drastic change of new technologies, techniques and energy sources, known as the Industrial Revolution. However, to power these new industries, an increase of child labour force was necessary. It may be argued that some children were beneficiaries however, through an examination of their working conditions in both the textile factories and mines, and their quality of city life can reveal that the majority were victims. Nevertheless, it may be said that the children…show more content…
Many city children were orphans or from neglected and abusive families and thus, had a variety of ways to support themselves. This included thieving and prostitution; however more prominently, work as a chimney sweep or mudlark. Chimney sweeps, more dominantly boys, would have to clean the inside of flues, naked, with small brushes, thus develop cancer on the testicles, have respiration problems and fall from chimneys. Mudlarks, on the other hand, had to avoid broken glass, human excrement and floating corpses while barefooted, scrambling for valuables such as iron, coins, jewellery or clothing. An author describes the mudlarks: “People used to pitch them coppers from the bridge and the poor little wretches would thrust their arms up to the armpits into the stinking slush in search for the coin” (URL 2). Together, these children depict the desperateness and hardships they endured to earn a living. Additionally, city children suffered many sanitary and domestic issues. Sewage ran down the streets and public outhouses provided little sanitation. Diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever and dysentery killed many people and many families had to travel large distances for water, however dirty it may be. Houses were usually one bedrooms and were occasionally occupied by two families and livestock. As a result, “more than 60% of children died before they reached the age of five” (Book 2), depicting the oppression and epidemics the children faced. However, some children were privileged to be born in rich families and were spoiled with toys, food and dressings along with an education. However, the majority suffered sickly and unhygienic conditions. Clearly, the children of the Industrial Revolution were not just victims of employers but also

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