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With the onset of the Industrial Revolution in Britain in the late 18th century, there was a rapid increase in the industrial exploitation of labour, including child labour.Industrial cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool rapidly grew from small villages into large cities and improving child mortality rates.
Child labour refers to the exploitation of children through any form of work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and is mentally, physically, socially or morally harmful.
although these laws do not consider all work by children as child labour; exceptions include work by child artists, family duties, supervised training, and some forms of child work practiced by Amish children, as well as by Indigenous children in the Americas.
Letitia Elizabeth Landon castigated child labour in her 1835 poem The Factory, portions of which she pointedly included in her 18th Birthday Tribute to Princess Victoria in 1837.
Throughout the second half of the 19th century, child labour began to decline in industrialised societies due to regulation and economic factors because of the Growth of trade unions.
Child labour has existed to varying extents throughout history.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, many children aged 5–14 from poorer families worked in Western nations and their colonies alike.
A succession of laws on child labour, the so-called Factory Acts, were passed in the UK in the 19th century.
Children younger than nine were not allowed to work, those aged 9–16 could work 16 hours per day per Cotton Mills Act.
In many societies, children as young as 13 are seen as adults and engage in the same activities as adults.
The work of children was important in pre-industrial societies, as children needed to provide their labour for their survival and that of their group.