Victorian Vices: Cruelty to Children and Victorian ‘Rescue’ Movements

Ref: C2346529

The ideal of childhood as a distinct an innocent phase before adulthood was challenged by the realities of life for many Victorian children. They were found to be working in harsh conditions in factories, coal mines and brickyards, as chimney boys, and even as prostitutes. Many were allegedly neglected by mothers who defied another Victorian ideal by working outside the home. Older children who defied authority were seen as potentially 'delinquent', and the subject of frequent ‘moral panics’. This lecture will consider some of the many efforts to protect or ‘rescue’ children from physical or moral danger, most of them on the part of charitable bodies - although the state could occasionally be persuaded to intervene. They included campaigns to regulate child labour; the formation of the NSPCC and other bodies such as Ragged School Missions; and the longer term solution to poverty and moral danger offered by a 'new life' in British colonies such as Australia and Canada.

Course aim

To give an outline of Victorian attitudes to childhood, and of campaigns to 'rescue' children from harm, both at work and in a domestic setting.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Explain how the perception of childhood as an age of innocence affected Victorian attitudes towards working class children.
  • Give examples of child labour during this period, and attempts to regulate it.
  • Explain why charities played such a prominent role in movements to protect or 'rescue' Victorian children.
  • Know where to access additional sources for further independent study.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

There is nothing that you need to know or bring to the lecture.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Victorian Vices: Cruelty to Children and Victorian ‘Rescue’ Movements

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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