The age at which people have been considered children has varied but there have always been those who were dependent on older people. Like women, children are usually absent from the sources unless some tragic or exceptional event occurs. Again like women a special effort is required to pinpoint the role of children in history and this effort see a gradual adding of relevant material.

More to come:

Perhaps the first example of welfare intervention on the part of wider government occurred when children from urban slums were placed as servants or workers within the Williams Valley district. By the end of the 19th century governments were acting to deal with child poverty and crime, and, as part of this, young boys and girls were sent to farms and rural families to provide them with apprenticeships and distance from urban vices. In the 1890s, Summer Hill School near Vacy was reported as having 52 to 56 pupils, numbers boosted by the farmers having ‘State school-boys’.1 There are also reports of girls boarded out in Dungog, and of a Vernon boy (a ship in Sydney Harbour housing ‘orphan’ boys) at Bendolba arrested, as well as of boys of similar origin whose circumstances were being investigated at Dungog and Paterson.2 In one case in 1916, a teacher at Glen William School reported abuse of these state wards, reports resulting in at least one child being removed.3

1 Ingle, Summer Hill, Paterson Valley, p.34.

2 (accessed 20/2/2012), Maitland Mercury, 15/11/1890, p.7S, & Sydney Morning Herald, 24/9/1885, p.4.

3 Gorton, Glen William Public School, p.31.