In the early 1900s, child labor was quite extreme. Child labor had been common during early times but with the advent of industrialization more children were employed instead of attending school. Actually in 1900 18% of all workers in America were aged below 16 years. Children worked in various factories for meager wages. Apart from requiring little pay, children were preferred to adults because their small size enables them to fit into tiny spaces in mines and also factories. These conditions were normally very dangerous especially for children. Even the protective gear was not available for children. Children who did not work at the factories and mines worked on the farms.
Child labor seemed ideal because children were easy to control in comparison to adults. Most children who worked at the factories and mines were from peasant families and so they forego school in order to support their families with the meager wages. Since the business was popular at the time it was easy for these small children to find work.
Around the 19th century, labor organizers and other reformists championed for the restriction of child labor in America. Among the things that they were advocating for was the improvement of working conditions.
Americans were initially reluctant to comply by these suggested changes in the labor market. However, after the Great Depression most of the jobs that were being done by children were taken up by adults.
Over the past two centuries the evolution of the laws of labor in America has tremendously changed the socio-economic status of the country. Child labor is no longer inn existence in America. If there are any cases of child labor they are probably on technical basis. For example an 18 year old being employed without having any identification to prove that he or she is indeed an adult.
In the colonial times child labor was not illegal. Children who worked in their family farms were also hired out to other people to work on their farms. Between the age of 10 and 14 years small boys became apprentices so that they learn a certain skill to enable them get employment.
Other factors came to play to bring down the prevalent child labor business. Immigration is one such factor. Young immigrants who started coming into America around this time replaced the children laborers. The immigrants composed of both men and women. However most of them were absorbed into the textile industry. Other factories continued employing children. This presented a new challenge for the labor unions to organize the immigrants because most of them were in the country illegally.
Educational reformers in mid 19th century took a different approach to stopping child labor. They focused on educating the Native American population on the importance of getting basic primary education. Subsequently, most states put in place a minimum wage for labor and lower requirements fro getting primary education.
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