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Old 12-13-2015, 08:07 PM
 
56 posts, read 54,661 times
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I realize back then life was pretty short and people were forced to do dangerous jobs, but it amazes me it wasn't until the early 20th century and women got involved till people thought watching little kids be routinely killed, broken bones, and horrible suffering wasn't such a good idea. How could people back then see all these little kids suffering in the worst imaginable ways and simply not give a damn or feel at all bad about it? With adults even though that kind of stuff was common as well at least they got to grow up and were..adults. Even back in the 1800s how could everyone look at all the children suffering and not feel one iota of remorse or guilt? Sure it would be looked at as a great evil to put children under the same conditions but even now it hasn't even been 100 years since forcing children to quite literally work to death on a mass scale was common which just seems nuts.

Were people back then just plain sick in the head? Relatively speaking it's only been a few generations that people would not be okay with that, it's not like we are talking about the middle ages either. I read a thing about some jobs children were forced to do and even for the time it amazes me how people could see all the children suffering and just not care. Take the Match Girls in Britain for example:

Child Labor: Match Girls - The British Industrial Revolution

Quote:
During the Industrial Revolution, match girls were young girls (4-16 years old) that made matches. They made them by dipping the ends of the match sticks into a harsh, toxic chemical called phosphorous.

This chemical was poisonous so many girls developed phossy jaw, a bone cancer that literally disintegrated parts of the jaw. When a girl got phossy jaw, her face near the jaw gave off a green glow and slowly turned black. The jaw would soon start to give off smelly pus, and eventually the girl would die from the cancer.
How could men be so evil and cruel that watching young girls jaws disintigrate not make them feel the least bit bad?

Or the Mule Scavenger:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mule_scavenger

Quote:
The miserable little creature... was a little girl about seven years old, whose office as "scavenger," was to collect incessantly from the machinery and from the floor, the flying fragments of cotton that might impede the work. In the performance of this duty, the child was obliged, from time to time, to stretch itself with sudden quickness on the ground, while the hissing machinery passed over her; and when this is skilfully done, and the head, body, and outstretched limbs carefully glued to the floor, the steady-moving, but threatening mass, may pass and repass over the dizzy head and trembling body without touching it. But accidents frequently occur; and many are the flaxen locks, rudely torn from infant heads, in the process.
Like seriously?? It truly amazes me how horrid and evil people were back then, I don't care what time period you are from, if you think seeing kids getting their scalps ripped off or heads decapitated isn't a problem you have to be a sick and twisted individual.
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Old 12-13-2015, 09:49 PM
 
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Child labor served a greater good (the economy), it helped keep orphans off the street, was considered one way to build character and, for those children who had parents, their child labor wages were a needed monetary contribution to the household. Life was brutal and relatively short. You cannot look at history through a modern lense.
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Old 12-13-2015, 10:24 PM
 
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First of all, it's important to realize that life was very hard, and most children were working to help their families, even if they weren't earning a wage. Farm children to this day are usually expected to help with daily chores, and many people simply saw child labor as another way to help the family stay afloat. Many working people needed the help of all the family to keep a roof over their heads. Many children were working in their tenement homes helping other family members who were doing sewing at home, piecework, making cigars or artificial flowers in their apartments. Not only children, every member of the family would be helping to make that day's allotted amount of shirtwaists, cigars, artificial flowers, etc.

That being said, some people were concerned about it. In New York in the mid-19th century there were a number of private efforts to help children. The Children's Aid Society was founded in the 1850s, and there was a charity to provide help for news boys. The Community Service Society had the idea of sending trains with orphans from New York City to the farms and small towns of the mid-west and west. Some of those children were taken in by good families, though a number of them just found themselves doing rural work rather than urban work.

Child labor was far from the worst thing that could happen to children. Remember, in this time period there was little access to birth control, fathers weren't taken to court for child support, mothers were often abandoned or died, and there was no safety net for poor children like the foster care system or Medicaid to make sure that children got a decent start in life, or medical care when they needed it. Children who didn't have an adult who would take care of them often slept in doorways or alleys, and most police stations would allow destitute people to sleep in their basements, but never for very long. Many were sexually exploited. A child who had a job was likely to have someone to live with, food and a warm place to sleep at night. A child who didn't have a job or someone to take care of them could literally starve to death and no one would take a blind bit of interest.
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Old 12-14-2015, 11:12 AM
 
Location: New Mexico
4,406 posts, read 1,980,026 times
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Default Data

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_labour especially the overview. Child labor was traditional for agriculture, & for small home production of goods. The Industrial Revolution displaced lots of agriculture & herding workers, & pushed families into debt &/or into the cities for work for wages. Children were injured & killed on farms, & so were adults.


The violence involved in ejecting tenant farmers, sheepherders, etc. from land they'd traditionally worked, was brutal. In that sense, there was a lot of violence in converting to a cash society. Cash & credit facilitated the Industrial Revolution, which eventually made our way of life possible.


Farm children (& farm labor in general, in the US) are still exempt from child labor laws. Children back in the IR & up until the early 20th century were viewed as little adults, more or less. & could be cheerfully exploited - paid @ 10% - 20% of the rate paid adults, for instance, for long hours, dangerous work. The rise of household income, availability of schools, & passage of child labor laws has cut into child labor in the West - it's still common in the developing World.
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Old 12-14-2015, 01:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe from dayton View Post
You cannot look at history through a modern lense.
Here is the recurring problem with that argument, there is considerable evidence that many found it wrong at the so in fact while we may not be judging historical events by the popular standards of the day, we are judging them by standards that emerged contemporaneously. For example the first laws regulating child labor began to be enacted as early as 1840 in Great Britain.
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Old 12-14-2015, 01:33 PM
 
35,106 posts, read 43,452,960 times
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In the present how can people be so disgusted by something that was a necessity in the past and it cannot be changed.
One must accept the fact that the past is the past, cannot be changed, cannot be prettied up and hopefully taught humans some things that should be changed and those things changed for the better.
Otherwise no need to fret over the past that no one in this decade had anything to do with and was not in control of any of it.
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Old 12-14-2015, 02:11 PM
 
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
16,616 posts, read 19,439,282 times
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Now we don't make children work at all.

We just teach them to sit motionless in front of screens and feed them processed foods that give them obesity and diabetes.

And they don't even get a paycheck for it, we just poison them and let them atrophy for our own sick amusement!
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Old 12-14-2015, 05:01 PM
 
Location: New Mexico
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Default The straw & the camel's back

Quote:
Originally Posted by CSD610 View Post
In the present how can people be so disgusted by something that was a necessity in the past and it cannot be changed.
One must accept the fact that the past is the past, cannot be changed, cannot be prettied up and hopefully taught humans some things that should be changed and those things changed for the better.
Otherwise no need to fret over the past that no one in this decade had anything to do with and was not in control of any of it.
No, the past - or @ least the official past, as taught in the schools - is always cleaned up, & usually prettified. To spare the feelings of our children, I suppose, & to not inflict a cold-hearted look upon our forebears here in the US. I can kinda see that - except that then, the people who strove, suffered & died so that we could enjoy the fruits of their labor & sacrifice - are pushed aside in the history books, & their contributions (& any lessons to learn from them & their example) minimized.


It's a neat problem - personally, I think we should teach our children the truth as best we can (@ an appropriate age, of course) - & not worry much about how history thinks of the explorers, colonizers, aristocrats, slave-holders & so on. The point to education is to equip our new generations with accurate information, & to teach them to make better decisions that we & our predecessors did. Loading the dice to make our antecedents seem to have been carved out of marble, ready to be stood up in some dusty museum & fetishized - well, there's no real point to that. Better a good understanding of real men & women, & their circumstances in history - the better to appreciate the good things they did, & correct any bad things they may have done.


& as I mentioned earlier, child labor laws in the US still make exceptions for agriculture - both the immediate family of farmers, ranchers, & the contract labor that many fruit & vegetable growers need in order to pick the products in a timely & efficient way. So - there's plenty of blame to go around, even yet. & we all - as consumers of relatively inexpensive food in the US - benefit from the miserable wages paid to adults & children - typically it's by weight of what's picked.
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Old 12-14-2015, 05:53 PM
 
Location: Coastal Georgia
40,275 posts, read 49,794,534 times
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This is an example of why laws should have a shelf life. Laws and regulations that are needed at the time they are enacted, get corrupted over time. Child labor laws, labor unions, women's liberation, affirmative action...all examples of necessary adjustments to society which have gotten out of control and need to be revisited. Power always corrupts.
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Old 12-14-2015, 05:53 PM
 
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People had short life expectancies, and 50 was considered pretty old. A lot of people died young. They married young. Younger people grew up fast back then.

Working-age adults had difficult, dangerous jobs as labourers, for the most part. Life was about survival to most people back in the olden days, not about comfort and leisure. So, they had no dreams of anything being better for their children.

When you see it in that light, was it really so strange to put children to work as soon as they were old enough to do something productive? None of them had a hope of becoming middle class anyway, they lacked money for advanced schooling, and they lacked connections for high-paying careers. So off to work they went. It helped pay for bread for the table for many large families.
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