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Although forms of child labor are still in affect today, the worst of it is in the past. Commonly defined as work performed by children endangering their health or safety, interfering with their education, or keeping them from activities that are important for their development, child labor began centuries ago. It started with the rise of industrial production and capitalism in the United States (Shahrokhi). The worst took place in the 1800's and early 1900's when such industrialization was on the rise, and before laws were in effect. However, child labor in all forms has not been fully removed from society today.
The most common places that children were put to work were textile factories, coal mills, farms, and other various factories. The reason that children were put to work in these environments is primarily due to machines. They were responsible for keeping the machines running smoothly, even if it put them in danger.
In textile mills the youngest were known as "scavengers" and "piecers" (Child Labor). The scavengers would pick up the loose cotton from underneath the machinery, while it was still in motion. The piecers were stationed where wool was spinning. They had to reach in to fix any threads that broke and carefully repair them. Piecers had very little time to do this, because the wheel was still spinning as they worked. There were also "doffers" who removed bobbins when they filled with thread, and replaced them
with empty spools (Innocence 113). These children worked barefoot so that they could climb the machines when needed. Children that were involved with sewing clothing often took garments home after work ours to finish them for the next day (Innocence 110).
Young girls often worked at hosiery mills, and it was documented that their shifts were eleven to twelve hours long, frequently six days a week. These children were expected to stand their entire shifts (Innocence 113). One of the most common places of work was the coal mine. Boys were known as "breaker boys". Their bodies, including the face, were covered on soot. These workers sat on wood boards straddling the coal chutes and picked out stones from the flowing coal beneath them (Innocence 108). A former child laborer stated that he left school at the age of eight to work in the mines. He was out of bed at five-thirty every morning and had to walk in the snow to work. He was then carried into the dangerous mill with a fellow worker (Bartoletti 11).
The conditions in most factories were extremely unhealthy and dangerous in many ways. Most were not ventilated or drained well, dirty, and there was no place to clean up or wash hands. The dust and cotton fibers floating in the air caused many illnesses (Child Labor). Accidents were very common as well due to the unguarded machinery. Frighteningly, one of the most common injuries was the loss of limbs, including fingers and toes (Child Labor). One twelve year old "doffer" fell in to a spinning machine, losing two of his fingers (Innocence 113). Factory owners were responsible for supplying the workers with f
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Lewis Hine, Douglas L. Kruse, Bartoletti, Kramer,
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National Child Labor Committee, Department of Labor, congress, AP, Rutgers University, Health Administration,
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United States, America, Pakistan,
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an example, the Associated Press,
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