A History of Child Labor
Child labor came about in the late 1700's and the early 1800's, when machines and factories started taking over physical workers. But factory owners needed someone to keep the machines running. So they hired out kids because they owners didn't necessarily need huge, muscular adults to work for them, and, well, having kids work for you was just cheaper. Around 1810, there was an estimated 2 million kids working in factories instead of being in school. From 1802 to 1878, the U.K. tried to pass laws and regulations against child labor, to make the working conditions better, shorten hours, and make it so that you had to be a certain age to work. Most of Europe took on the same regulations in their countries as well. But in the United States, it wasn't until 1899 that only 28 states had put up regulations against child labor. Congress tried to pass two child labor laws in 1918 and 1922, but the Supreme Court didn't allow it. Then in 1938, Congress made the Fair Labor Standards law, making their child labor laws much like Europe's, with the working age raised, the conditions better, and the work hours shorter. Canada also has similar laws, and in 1999, the International Labor Organization set out to end the worst of all child labor around the world. But as of 2006 there are still about 218 millions children illegally in the work force.