Child Labor


During the first Industrial Revolution, labor was in great demand. Many families residing in rural areas moved to the city in hopes of securing jobs. This is when child labor became popular in many industrial factories. Although there have been many laws made to end or regulate child labor, it is still an issue for many children today. For example, I found a retelling of two sister’s experiences while working at a cotton gin during the Industrial Revolution. They both worked for 12 hours each day for a mere 50 cents. We would all like to think that this outrageous story of child labor is something of the past, but in reality child labor is simply rooted in industrialization. As long as there is industrialization, there will be child labor. In a secondary source I found that discussed child labor of today, the statistics for child labor around the world, including the United States, the numbers are staggering. According to the site, “Statistics from the International Labor Organization show that there are about 73 million children between ages 10 and 14 that work in economic activities throughout the world, and 218 million children working worldwide between the ages of 5 and 17.” Based on these figures, child labor is still an issue today.

My primary source and secondary source may discuss child labor from different times, but the conditions of child labor have not improved by much. When you look a the reasons for child labor at the start of the Industrial Revolution, their reasons for using children is not much different from the reasons child labor is still used. Cheap labor has always been the goal for big companies, no matter if it is for cotton, cocoa, coal, or any other natural resource needed.

After reading the two sources and comparing the information from the past and the present, the issue remains the same: Child labor is still being used across the world. Children are exploited for labor in unsafe working conditions, for long hours, and almost no pay. It is sad when you realize that for so many families, children are required to work in order to keep the family afloat. So the issue turns into how we can end child labor once and for all across the world. It is clearly as issue that has persisted across time.

Industrialization helps to understand the conditions under which child labor is usually used. By looking at child labor during the Industrial Revolution, we can have a greater understanding of how this issue transformed into a contemporary issue that we still face today. Having background knowledge on early child labor helps us to understand why we still use child labor, as well as the long-term consequences of using child labor for this long.

Primary source:

Secondary source:



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