Introduction

Historian Ginger Frost in Victorian Childhoods states that childhood in the period of the nineteenth century was indeed ‘difficult, harsh and all too brief’. [1] This being said, the perception of childhood did begin to evolve throughout the century. For instance, beginning in the 1830s Victorians acknowledged the need to protect and safeguard children, which resulted in the passing of a variety of laws aimed at doing exactly that. The wellbeing of children at work, school and at home were all addressed and reformed. Ideology surrounding the child moved away from them being viewed as small adults, and this was a result of romanticism which encouraged the image of children as innocent and requiring protection from the harshness of the adult world. Artists and writers increasingly produced images of children which played on their sentimentality and innocence. Therefore, the end of the Victorian era saw the idea of ‘childhood’ being viewed as separate from that of the adult world. Given this shift in the idea of childhood, it should come as a surprise when it is said that it took many decades for children to be properly safeguarded: high infant mortality rates, inadequate schooling, and child labour prevailed.

This blog page will focus on children within the slum environment, including their involvement in various aspects of criminal life, the conditions in which their worked, how their health was affected by living in such an environment, and finally the ways children spent their leisure time.

 

References:

[1] Frost, G., Victorian Childhoods (Westport, USA: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2009), p.164

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