Child-Stripping in the Victorian City

Donald MacRaild, Frank Neal

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    5 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    During the nineteenth century, police, magistrates, reformers and thepress noticed a rising tide of juvenile crime. Child-stripping, the crime of stealingyoung children’s clothes by force or deception, was an activity of this typewhich caused alarm among contemporaries. As the century progressed, improvedpolicing, urbanization and Irish migration, allied to growing social concern, causedmore cases of child-stripping to be noticed. Accounts by Dickens, Mayhew andothers characterized child-stripping as an activity indulged in by old women whowere able to make money by victimizing the weakest strata of society. However,research in the British Library’s digitized newspaper collections as well as inparliamentary papers conclusively demonstrates that child-stripping, far frombeing the domain of Dickensian crones,was actually perpetrated by older children,notably girls, against children even younger than themselves. Despite widespreadrevulsion, which at times approached a ‘moral panic’ prompted by the natureof the crime, progressive attitudes largely prevailed with most child-strippingchildren being sent to reformatories or industrial schools in the hope of reformingtheir behaviour. This article thus conforms with Foucauldian notions of the switchfrom physical to mental punishments and aligns with the Victorians’ invention ofchildren as a category of humanity that could be saved.
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages431-452
    JournalUrban History
    Volume39
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012

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    crime
    offense
    reformatory
    city
    Victorian Era
    social stratum
    nineteenth century
    invention
    urbanization
    penalty
    newspaper
    tide
    police
    money
    migration
    school
    Crime
    Charles Dickens

    Cite this

    MacRaild, Donald ; Neal, Frank. / Child-Stripping in the Victorian City. In: Urban History. 2012 ; Vol. 39, No. 3. pp. 431-452.
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    abstract = "During the nineteenth century, police, magistrates, reformers and thepress noticed a rising tide of juvenile crime. Child-stripping, the crime of stealingyoung children’s clothes by force or deception, was an activity of this typewhich caused alarm among contemporaries. As the century progressed, improvedpolicing, urbanization and Irish migration, allied to growing social concern, causedmore cases of child-stripping to be noticed. Accounts by Dickens, Mayhew andothers characterized child-stripping as an activity indulged in by old women whowere able to make money by victimizing the weakest strata of society. However,research in the British Library’s digitized newspaper collections as well as inparliamentary papers conclusively demonstrates that child-stripping, far frombeing the domain of Dickensian crones,was actually perpetrated by older children,notably girls, against children even younger than themselves. Despite widespreadrevulsion, which at times approached a ‘moral panic’ prompted by the natureof the crime, progressive attitudes largely prevailed with most child-strippingchildren being sent to reformatories or industrial schools in the hope of reformingtheir behaviour. This article thus conforms with Foucauldian notions of the switchfrom physical to mental punishments and aligns with the Victorians’ invention ofchildren as a category of humanity that could be saved.",
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    MacRaild, D & Neal, F 2012, 'Child-Stripping in the Victorian City', Urban History, vol. 39, no. 3, pp. 431-452. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0963926812000211

    Child-Stripping in the Victorian City. / MacRaild, Donald; Neal, Frank.

    In: Urban History, Vol. 39, No. 3, 01.08.2012, p. 431-452.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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