How many of you always complain because you don’t want to go to school?
You should know that in victorian times only rich children went to school. Poor children had to go to work or steal.
Most of the workers in factories were poor children starting from 4-5 year olds. Their lives were hard. They had to work for long hours and got treated with cruelty. In match factories, children had to dip matches in a chemical called phosphorous. That would rotten their teeth and some unlucky children died because they breathed it into their lungs.
Often orphans were taken to mills where they would help the master to work. They worked for long hours and didn’t have fresh air or excercise, they spent their Sunday cleaning the machines. Some children had their hands crushed while working with the machines and some died because they fell in the machines while sleeping.
Coal mines weren’t very nice, roofs often collapsed and workers got all kinds of injuries. All the works that are now done by machines were done by men, women or children. Some children were “asked” to open the doors when they heard the vagons were coming. In order to do this job they had to sit down in dark and damp places and pull a rope to open the door when the vagons were coming. Then luckily in 1842 the Mines Act stopped children from working in the mines under the age of 12.
During victorian times children were also used as chimney sweeps because they were very small and they would fit inside the chimney. Children suffered many cuts, grazes and bruises on their knees, elbows and thighs however after months of suffering their skin became hardened.
Poor families who lived in the countryside were also forced to send their children out to work. Seven and eight year olds could work as bird scarers, out in the fields from four in the morning until seven at night.
It took a long time for things to change because nobody thought that it was a bad thing for children to work. Lord Shaftesbury was one of the first to make people understand that children shouldn’t work or miss school.