When Did Child Labor Begin?

Although child labor has existed to some extent for thousands of years, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century was the turning point for an explosion of child labor. During the Industrial Revolution, most families relied on their children to work.

Sending kids to school was not an option for two reasons. Many parents could not afford to send their children to school, and the missed work opportunities for children were also a factor. In the United States, child labor reforms began in the 1830s, and it took more than 100 years for federal laws to mandate minimum working hours and age of employment.