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Social Reform’s Effect on Children during the 19th Century

children of progressive eraChildren  were found laboring along side women in many of the Nation’s factories.  Times were hard and working conditions within these factories were unacceptable.  The influx of immigrants seeking a better life  filled the labor market.  During the Gilded Age, industrialization grew at a rapid rate (Jansson, B. S. (2012). The Reluctant Welfare State. Brooks Cole).   Nearing the end of the 19th century, scores of children worked long, hard hours in these factories, as farm laborers and other jobs as well.  In 1836, Massachussets’s efforts entailed a law passed that encouraged children to receive at leat some education during the year. This resulted in a ten hour work day effort being encouraged for children (http://Massaflcio.org/1843-Massachussets-legislature-passes-firts-child-labor-law).  Children were thought to be “more manageable, cheaper, and less likely to strike” (Child Labor Public Education Project).  Due to rising concerns with the this, many factories were relocated in the American South.  There was no specific law in each state to protect children and if there were any laws pertaining to this at all, it was not always strictly enforced (Child Labor Public Education Project).  Society had cast a blind eye to much of the injustices happening to children within unsafe working condtions.

The Orphan Trains were initiated in 1869, by Charles Loring Brace, due to many children roaming homeless and neglected.  He sough to help these children by placing them with “morally upright farm families.” This is understood to be the first movement of Foster Care (The Orphan Trains).  Child Abuse was recognized in the case of Samuel Fletcher, who was abused by his parents, and they were fined for this (http://0101.nccdn.net/1_5/03a/170/389/LEADERSHIP-timeline-timeline.11×17.pdf). Advocates, Jane Addams and Ellen Starr, established the nursery care, kindergarten and special interest groups for young boys and girls, through the creation of the Hull House, in 1889 (THE SOCIAL WELFARE HISTORY PROJECT).   Strides to improve childrens’ quality of education were made through efforts of John Dewey, who thought education should provide the opportunity for  childrens’ growth and better prepare them for adulthood (http://www.faqs.org/childhood/co-Fa/Dewey-John-1859-1952.html) .





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