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A Day In The Life Of A Child Laborer
Transcript of A Day In The Life Of A Child Laborer
William Cooper was a ten year old boy who experienced what the days of a child laborer were like. William and his sister would wake up every morning at about 4:00 or 4:30 in order to get to the factory by 5:00 A.M. At noon the children were given a forty minute lunch break, and that was all they got all day. Around 3 P.M. the children became tired, so in order to keep them awake adult overseers would whip them. By 6 P.M. the children would eat on the run because they weren't given a dinner break. At 9 P.M. William's 16 hour shift ended. But his sister worked two more hours until about 11 o'clock at night even though she had to be up again at 5 A.M. the next morning.
Wages and Hours
During the Industrial Revolution, children as young as six years old worked for little to no pay. At times, children would work up to 19 hours a day, with only a one hour break. Usually a child would get paid a fraction of what an adult was paid. Sometimes, factory owners would get away with paying them nothing. Factory owners tried to get away by saying they didn't pay them because they would pay for their food, shelter, and clothing. Even when a child did get paid though it was a very small amount.
The Dangers of Child Laborer
These children not only were working long hour days with little to no pay, they were being held under very dangerous conditions. They would work on or near very dangerous machinery that was extremely large and heavy. Many accidents would happen from these pieces of equipment and would either seriously injure or kill children.
Treatment Children Got
A child's treatment in factories was usually very cruel, and their safety was normally neglected. The children who were too young to work on machinery were usually sent to go assist the textile workers. The ones who the children would help would beat them, verbally abuse them, and didn't care about their safety. Both boys and girls would be subject to beatings and harsh forms of discipline.
Forms of Punishment
Children were always being beat in different ways. When they got to the factory late or didn't do what they were suppose to do they would be "weighted." That meant that an overseer would tie a heavy weight to the child's neck and they would have to walk up and down the isles of the factory. The other children would watch them do this and "take example" so to say. This form of punishment usually lasted around an hour. It caused children serious injuries in their back or neck.
Movements to Regulate
Many people were very upset with child laborers. The factory owners although loved it because they thought it was good not only for the economy but they said it helped build a childs qualities. The parents of these children had to approve of it because they needed the income. In 1833, something was starting to help this problem. The Factory Act was passed by Parliament. This act limited the amount of hours children of certain ages could work.
Benefits of the Factory Act
The Factory Act didn't completely get rid of child laborer but it did help in ways. For example, children from the ages of 9 to 13 could only work 8 hour days. Children from the ages of 14 to 18 could only work 12 hour days. And children under the age of 9 could not work at all. But most importantly the government appointed officials to make sure this act was carried out and followed correctly.