The Dangerous Classes


"Gangs of children, gangs of thieves"

 Children are one of the more surprising groups to be lumped into the category of the dangerous classes. Children are generally thought of as innocent and too young to be criminals. The bourgeoisie, however, saw the urchins that inhabited the streets of Paris as dangerous people. "Gangs of children, gangs of thieves," the saying went. In 1830 the average life expectancy of a worker's child was two years. This statistic goes a long way to explain the phenomenon of the Paris gamin; those children who survived parental neglect and the urban death rate had already proved themselves remarkably flexible and sturdy. The bourgeois notion of "les gamins" was countered by Victor Hugo in Les Misérables. Hugo payed tribute to the Parisian gamin in his creation of Gavroche.


This image is of a street arab pictured in a reproduction of the famous painting Liberty Leading the People