During the Industrial Revolution, children as young as four were employed in production factories with appalling, and often fatal working conditions. Up until this time, children worked alongside their parents on the farm. Though this was far from easy work, the children had the protection of their parents.
The managers of factories had no compunction about having the child-laborers work twelve to fifteen hours a day. Unsafe machinery, sooty air, and little or no food were only a few of the conditions that these children faced every day. There were no days off, no lunch hours, no breaks.
It would take decades for labor reform to make conditions safer for children, and, for that matter, adult workers. Reform came slowly, with advocates for it battling business owners and managers.