Essay Example on Decline of Child Labor in 19th Century Europe & North America

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Pages:  8
Wordcount:  1952 Words
Date:  2023-06-06


Child labor is said to have been rampant in North American as well as Europe in the 19th century. But came to decline from the beginning of the 20th century. History has it that the rates of child labor were extremely high in the past, especially in the countries mentioned above because of industrialization, which began in the western countries. Child labor became widespread in Europe and North America because of the high demand for labor, which was not readily available. It then spread to the rest of the world where some nations sold them as slaves, while others used them as cheap labor. It is considered that child labor in the past was high in rural areas as compared to the urban centers.

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In the United States of America, research indicates that approximately 5% of children were being used as laborers in 1930, and it was the highest that had been experienced in the history of the world (Srivastava, 2011). In areas like the UK, it was also high but began to decline after the First World War. The decline rate was approximated to be between 6-7% for children in the age bracket of 12-14 years. It made the rate of reduction higher in Europe as compared to America (Srivastava, 2011). On the contrary, at the onset of the Second World War, the rate of child employment rapidly increased to approximately 15.3% among children between the age of 12 and 14 years (Srivastava, 2011). The rationale behind using children for labor was that they would be paid less, and also because of their small bodies, they would easily complete tasks that adults would not. Besides, children were said to be good for labor as they could not organize themselves in unions and demand for more wage or better working conditions.

In places where the Puritan law was practiced, hard work was valued, and idleness was discouraged. As a result, people were encouraged to work more, and these principles applied to children as well. Throughout the 1800s, child labor was considered the most important part of the handicraft and agricultural sectors. The boys were forced to learn the trade at the age of ten in readiness for when they became 11 years of age (Rahikainen, 2017). In regions such as Africa, children began working at an early age as soon as they began to be competent. At a tender age, they would take care of their younger siblings, go the fields to herd livestock and also do house chores (Rahikainen, 2017). As soon as they reached the age of thirteen years, they were viewed as adults and would participate in all the chores that adults and this entailed being married off for the girls. Additionally, children were also sold off as slaves to pay their parents debts in times of need. When the Europeans began colonizing Africa, they wanted to exploit their minerals as well as reaping agricultural benefits from their farms. They wanted to maximize profits, and they, therefore, sought cheap labor, and this involved the use of children who were paid very poorly with long hours of working (Rahikainen, 2017). In Africa, most children pursued wage labor because they wanted to improve their financial status as well as gain independence. The bad side of it is that they lacked any protection rights and would be treated and exploited like adults.

In Asia and Pacific regions, it was not different because when the British, among other European nations, when to colonize and exploit them, they used children to get cheap labor. In India, for instance, many children were hired because they were not aware of their rights and therefore became an easy target for exploitation. They were viewed as easy targets because they could not complain about the injustices subjected to them. Besides, children also had to work because of high levels of poverty, huge families, and lack of parental education. The trend of child labor reduced gradually because of numerous rules and regulations that were put in place to protect the children. In places like the Soviet Union and Russia, child labor was rampant, and it was worse because they were not paid any income. They were subjected to labor during school holidays and weekends. It was, however, abolished in the 20th century.

Present issues of child labor throughout the world

Despite the rules and regulations that have been put in place to protect the rights of children, there are still cases where they are used as a form of cheap labor. It is heartbreaking in this era of technology, and great communications that cases of children being exploited are still reported. It is one of the greatest hindrances of human rights because children should be given the time to enjoy their moments and not play adult roles and be paid a meager wage as a bait. Labor organizations refer to child labor as an activity that deprives children of their childhood. Research indicates that in the world today, there are over 186 million children who are working as laborers (Srivastava, 2011). The majority of them are hidden workers who are employed as home workers and other underground economies. Although several governments across the world today prohibit child labor, it is practiced in the informal sector of the economy. The rates are, however, declining because of the tough measures put in place by the international labor organization to protect children.

According to the international labor office, millions of children are still trapped in forced labor, sexual exploitation, and slavery of different kinds. The organization, however, states that the rates of such labor have been gradually declining, and in 2020, the estimates stand at 100 million, and the ages are between 5 and 17. According to research done by world vision child labor today is experienced by countries that have high poverty rates. A good example is that in Sub Saharan Africa, over twenty-seven countries still practice child labor. Besides, it is practiced in places where there is social unrest and dominated by armed conflicts. World Vision also explains that in the current world, child labor results from family poverty, making children lack food, among other needs. The statistic indicates that 56% of those experiencing child labor live in countries with middle income while 2 million live countries with high income.

In reference to the ILO, the worst forms of child labor today include prostitution and pornography, child trafficking, debt bondage, forced recruitment into militia groups and armed conflicts. When putting gender into consideration, there more boys than girls who work as child laborers (Ochab, 2018). It is because the magnitude of the decline in the number of girls in child labor declines more as a result of several organizations advocating for the rights of a girl child. The statistics may, however, change because the majority of girls might be working, but they are not visible to the public eye (Ochab, 2018). According to research Asia and pacific leads in child labor, but it also has the largest rate of decline in the activity when compared to other regions such as Sub Saharan Africa. Currently, there are over 120 million children who are in child labor but specifically in hazardous sectors (Ochab, 2018). The highest numbers of children with the lowest age come from Sub Saharan Africa. The majority of them work on farms which produce consumer goods.

Currently, the international labor organization has played a critical in fighting for the children's rights and the elimination of child labor. There are 23 conventions that regulate labor rights for children (History. Com, 2020). The major contents in the laws are putting a minimum age restriction, and this has helped to reduce the number of children being subjected to any form of labor. The offenders are heavily fined, therefore reducing the numbers which are either forced or work voluntarily (History. Com, 2020). Besides, there are also statutes against forced labor, and this has helped in reducing the numbers of children being abducted and sold as slaves. Additionally, according to the minimum age convention, all people under the age of eighteen years should not work in facilities that can adversely affect their health or safety. Some of the work mentioned includes; operation of heavy machines and working in mining sites. It also states that children who are between the age of 13 and 15 can do light duties as long as they do not jeopardize their health. On the other hand, those who are under the age of 13 are not allowed to work.

Future issues of child labor throughout the world

The future for children is great because of the steps that have been taken by the international labor organization among other entities. According to ILO, child labor should be over by the year 2025 (History. Com, 2020). ILO explains that the issue of child labor is not acceptable in today's society, and as one of the sustainable development goals, it should end in the next five years. The ILO director-general states, "The message that we must act now to stop child labor once and for all has been affirmed by the Sustainable Development Goals. Acting together, it is within our means to make the future of work a future without child labor." Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General (Relief Web 2020). Reports indicate that at least 1 in ten children are experiencing child labor, and among them, 69% work for unpaid services within their family setting.

The future for children is bright, especially with the measures that have been put in place to put to an end the practice. There is a need to secure the future of children because the works they are being exposed to not only ruin their potential to be educated but also affects their health. Those who work in hazardous environments often face the challenge, and they cannot get proper medical attention (Ortiz-Ospina & Roser, 2016). According to sustainable development goals, the rights of children need to be strictly observed so as to secure their health and also the future by getting an education. One of the measures that have been put in place to secure the future of children is through the establishment of world day against child labor, which is celebrated every June 12 of the year (Ortiz-Ospina & Roser, 2016). The day is meant to sensitize people on issues against child labor and help to educate them on the need to protect children and their health.

In one of their ILO explains that children should not work in fields but rather on their dreams. It has also worked towards promoting social justice and dignified work among the children who wish to work. The future plan is to not only enforce laws that prevent children from working but also look into situations that make them work even in environments that they endanger their lives. Target 8.7 of sustainable goals in part explains "Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms" (United Nations 2019). According to the excerpt, there are plans to not only protect children but also eliminate the worst forms of child labor.

The approach towards the right direction in regard to child labor entails the provision of education services to help children who come from poor families and cannot get access to education and also those that are transitioning from child labor to a better path. Additionally, there are plans to increase community support for education so that children can get access to free education services, feeding programs, among other basic needs that will help enable them to live comfortable lives. Besides, provision of basic needs to families whose livelihoods are based on poor forms of labor. When such families are helped, then the chances of their children...

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