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Analysis of the Scientific Value of an Article Child Labor Reform in The Early Progressive Era, 1870–1900

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Drip, drop; drip, drop. The sound of the sweat pouring down a young boys’ face brings to light a larger issue of dangerous work for young kids.

From 1870-1900, children worked in unsafe conditions that led to a loss of limbs and overall health. Minors would work around machinery that would catch onto loose objects such as clothes, hands, and hair. It very hard to remove an object once becomes caught in equipment. Little kids would also work in factories with toxic chemicals that decreases a child’s health, making them very ill. My knowledge of child labor reform arises quite small, therefore I will begin learning new, fascinating facts about the early Progressive Era. I hope to learn more about the development of science by professors and the laws created in order to protect young boys and girls. I will review Frederica Perera as the author of the article.

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Frederica Perera is professor of Environmental Health Sciences and serves as director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health and of the Disease Investigation. In the article “Science as an Early Driver of Policy: Child Labor Reform in the Early Progressive Era, 1870–1900, ” Perera speaks about how the growth of science influenced child labor laws. This reviewer noticed the well-formed flow and organization throughout the article because of the main points of social, economic, and moral standards. In each main point, the author sets out to answer her own questions, but the format of the article makes it difficult to follow along. If the author divided the main points into paragraphs instead of columns, then the article would not materialize as a challenging read.

This researcher agrees with Perera’s conclusions about science contributing to understand a child’s biological and psychological weakness, but there were not specific facts that proved the author’s point. Perera arises as a supporter for child labor laws because of the quotes inserted in her article which state that children need protection from hazardous chemicals, machinery, and work environment. The author states, “Progressive reformers of the 20th century increasingly relied on scientific data in their push for reform of child labor and for protection…” and afterwards, Perera cites another author for this quote. From the ninety endnotes the author has at the end of her article, this reviewer concludes that Perera agrees with a large variety of researchers and uses their work as evidence in her own article. Granted that Perera uses other researchers work as evidence, words like ‘psychosocial’ are not defined which makes the article complicated to understand since this reviewer does not have a general knowledge of psychology. In the end, the article written by Frederica Perera increased my knowledge in factors such as social class and immigration that contributed to children in the workforce. Also, the specific elements in the workplace that would make a child sick grabbed my attention. I found it interesting that Perera did not go into detail about the types of laws created to protect children, although I would have enjoyed the article more if it did.

Overall the article talked about the science behind child labor reforms, but never gave statistical data. Without data present in the article, I believe that Perera over used the word ‘many’ in order to skip analytical information. If Perera revises her article to make it a different format with more information about child labor reform laws, definitions, and data, then the article would become more pleasant to read.


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