Partially as a result of this paranoia, children's potty training (which historically was usually finished by the time the child was a year old) got pushed back later and later. Manufacturers soon started producing disposable diapers for older children to accommodate the trend, and now it's not unusual for parents to keep children in diapers until they start school. In other words, a poop-covered-plastic landfill the size of Texas probably exists today at least partly because we once believed using toilets at the wrong time caused the Rape of Nanking.
Anyway, this article has been pretty lighthearted so far, but now that the Rape of Nanking has been mentioned, it's time to move on to the darker stuff. If reading about young children getting hurt is a problem for you, simply skip down to the comment section right now and describe the fluffiest goddamn bunny you ever saw. Otherwise, read about how ...
Burial Clubs Encouraged So Much Murder
"Burial clubs" might sound like a badass pastime for really organized goths, but they were actually a form of life insurance popular in 19th-century Britain. By providing payouts after death, burial clubs allowed grieving families to afford funeral expenses after their child fell inside one of those fancy top hats and suffocated. I don't have time to check right now, but I assume that was the leading cause of child death in the 19th century.
"Why don't we just all stop wearing these hats?"
"Go eat a dick, Reginald."
But then as now, the idea of instant postmortem profits did create the incentive to, well, murder people. The difference is that a person today who tries to take out six different life insurance policies on a family member will soon be dealing with, like, all the police. Back in the 1800s, however, poor and desperate parents could profit from the death of a child with almost no questions asked: The industry was too unregulated for anyone to get suspicious, and anyway, infants just dropped dead all the time back then. So one child at the time was found to be enrolled in no fewer than 19 burial clubs, and if babies were a bit smarter, it probably would have packed up all its stuff using its adorable baby hands and run far away.
Design Pics/Design Pics/Getty Images
"We never ask Frank about his past, but we have our suspicions. He's got that thousand-yard stare."
Technically, the punishment for infanticide was the death penalty, but as it was almost impossible to distinguish between child-murderers and grieving parents who were still haunted by recurring hat-related nightmares, actual guilty verdicts were rare. So, assuming that these people left at least some of their children alive, some of the people reading this probably had great-great-grandparents who murdered their children for cash and got away with it. Be sure to bring that up at your next family seance.
C. Coville has a terrible Twitter here and a just-as-terrible Tumblr here.
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