It’s Not Child Labor, its Child Abuse
It’s Not Child Labor, its Child Abuse
Patrick Kearny, a nine and a half year old boy died in a horrible mine accident (Freedman 52). He’s not the only one. In the 20th Century, many children got physical deformities and were in accidents while they were working their tough, harsh jobs. Many young working children got diseases. Others got severe burns. Cuts and physical deformities were popular as well. Imagine that you are working at night, a tall big man screaming at you to not stop and you are just getting little pay. On top of that you just accidentally burned your legs. This was very popular. Burning occurred in coal mines and glass factories. In the mines, children were not protected very much.
They barely wore gloves, so their hands were at risks. Accidents happened often. In 1911, Lewis Hine was photographing in a mine. He observed two young children accidentally falling onto burning hot coal and died, right there. ““While I was there, two breaker boys fell or were carried into the coal chute, where they were smothered to death,” Hine reported from a Pennsylvania Mine” (Freedman 48). Many children lied about their age when working like Patrick Kearny and Dennis McKee. He was a 15 year old boy who lost his life by falling into a chute at an Avondale Mine (Freedman 52). Also, 15 year old Arthur Albecker burned and injured both of his legs. So, not only do these young children work in a horrible environment, but accidents happen a lot in mines.
Also, burning happened frequently in glass factories. “…minor accidents from burning are common. “Severe burns…are regular risks of the trade in glass-bottle making,” says Mrs. Florence Kelly.” (Spargo 2). These accidents happen because the jobs include use extremely hot glass. Also children, have to heat glass near flames.
Not only did these small, poor, innocent children get burned, but many children got terrible diseases while working tough jobs. Spinners commonly experience disease. “The hot, steamy air was filled with dust and lint that covered the workers’ clothes and made it hard to breathe. Mill workers frequently developed tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis, and other respiratory diseases.” (Freedman 35). Those weren’t the only respiratory diseases children got. In 1902, several miners got miners’ asthma now known as pneumoconiosis (Derickson 4).That is a disease of the lungs caused by inhaling mineral or metallic dust over a long period of time. This comes about by a lot of exposure to mine dust while the workers are still children. (Derickson 4). Also, children got tuberculosis, rickets, and other diseases like the common hookworm disease. (Derickson 4). Hookworm disease, which is widespread among farmers, is a blood-sucking, nematode worm (found in textile plants) that goes through the skin, attaching itself to the intestinal walls with its hooked mouthparts.
Rickets is a disease, especially of children, caused by a lack in vitamin D that makes the bones become soft and prone to bending and structural change. In addition, children popularly got rheumatism. It is a disease which joint or muscles pain. Also the common cold was frequent. This happens when being in two extreme temperatures. In glass factories, young boys are next to a scorching furnace to a freezing room where they cool off glass (Spargo 3). Young children had to work harsh jobs that aren’t safe at all. They may get diseases. It is simply immoral. Lastly, children got dreadful cuts and physical deformities. Cuts were common in farming. “In the fall, the mature beets were pulled from the ground and were “topped”. Topping required holding a beet against the knee and slicing off the top with a sixteen-inch knife that had a sharp prong at one end.
Accidents happened all too often. “I hooked my knee with the beet knife,” a seven-year old boy told Hine, “but I just went on working.” (Freedman 67). So, very young kids of age, 5, 6, 7, handled one foot and a half long knives. You can guess that accidents happened often. Also, doffers got cut plenty. (Freedman, 35)A young boy tripped into a spinning machine. (Freedman 35) He accidentally tore out two of his fingers. (Freedman, 35) This was very common. Also, physical deformities happened. Reformers found that premature employment shortened normal physical development. (Derickson 4) So if young children worked, they became short, underage adults. (Derickson 4) They also found that children that worked had flat feet by standing and walking all day with improper footgear and a curved spine by bending while working for several hours. (Derickson 4)
In conclusion, accidents and physical deformities happened very repeatedly in the early 20th century. Accidents like burning were twice as common in children as with adults. Diseases were popular too. Lastly, physical deformities affected these children for the rest of their already short lives. Spine-curving and flat feet were common. Risks of pesticide intoxication occurred too. The list is endless. So as you can see, child labor is unhealthy, unfair, unjust, and immoral. It should be called child abuse, as that’s what it is. Don’t you think that children deserve an education? Children deserve better than working in an unhealthy and hazardous place. Children deserve to live longer. Children deserve to be children.
Cleland, Hugh G. “Child Labor.” Encyclopedia Americana. 2008. Grolier Online. 19 Oct. 2008 http://ea.grolier.com/cgi-bin/article?assetid=0090989-00
Derickson, Alan. “Making Human Junk: Child Labor as a Health Issue in the Progressive Era” SIRS Knowledge Source, 1992.19 Oct. 2008 http://sks.sirs.com/cgi-bin/hst-article-display?id=SMIAMIDADE-0-5114&artno=0000270
Freedman, Russell. Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor. New York; Houghton Mifflin Company.1994
Spargo, John. “The Bitter Cry of the Children (excerpt)” American History Online. 1906. Facts On File, Inc. 19 Oct 2008 http://fofweb.com/NuHistory?default..asp?ItemID=WE52&NewItemID=True
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 31 December 2016
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