The March of Progress View of Childhood – Children’s lives have got better over time

A related view here is that  both the family and society have become more child centred over time. 

Childhood in Britain used to be much closer to how it is amongst more, traditional, tribal societies today. This section looks at what childhood used to be like in the Victorian era and how and why children’s lives have ’improved’ in recent years. Most people take a ‘march of progress’ perspective on this, arguing that children’s lives are better today than they were 200 years ago.

Changes to Childhood since Victorian Times

Since the Victorian era, childhood has gone through many changes. There is general agreement that these represent improvements to childhood.

1. Child Labour has been restricted…..

Children aged 13-14 may work a maximum of 25 hours per week,
Children aged 16-17 a maximum of 35 hrs per week Full Employment rights only at 18.

2. Schooling has become compulsory and extended 

In 1880 Education became compulsory up the age of 10
1944 – Increased to 15
1973 – Increased to 16
2015 – Increased to 18

3. ‘The rights of children’ have become more central to society

4. There has been an increase in child protection and welfare services

5. Parents spend considerably more money on children and spend more time parenting than in the past.


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