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Childhood Poverty Essay, Research Paper

Childhood Poverty

We as Americans are extremely lucky. We live in a big country with many resources and almost all the luxuries we ever wanted. On the flip side, in America there are also many people who do not have these privileges. The lower class is a struggling class. For many years, people have been trying to pull themselves up from the lower class and the majority does not succeed. Childhood poverty is a large problem in the U.S. It is said that the poorest people in the United States are the children of the lower class. Childhood poverty could lead to a number of problems such as hunger, violence, physical and mental disabilities, educational problems, homelessness, family stress, sickness, and too-early parenthood. The sad truth is that living in poverty lowers a child’s chance to grow into a healthy, well-adjusted adult who will contribute to society.

The number of people who are classified as the working class poor has increased. It has also been proven that work by itself will not keep a family out of poverty. As for government assistance for families in poverty, it has been decreasing. The government argued that families were not using all the services, which were available to them.

In today’s society, the amounts of single-parent households are increasing and this is another reason for the existence of childhood poverty. Statistics show that children living in single-parent homes are five times more likely to be poor. More people are getting divorced and are also having children outside of wedlock. It has also been said that women rather than men head about 90% of single-parent families. One of the

reasons why these particular families are so poor is because out of all divorced fathers, only 50% help support their child financially. As we are still see today, women in the work force have a hard time trying to earn as much as men. This makes things much more difficult, especially for those women whom are single teen parents. Teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of high school and be dependent on welfare. The level of education for the parents is also another aspect of poverty. Other characteristics that contribute to poverty parents are their emotional status, or even mental retardation.

Children are faced with many consequences due to growing up in poverty. Most children who live in poverty go to poor unsuitable schools, live in unexceptable housing, and grow up around more violence and crime than any other parent would wish for their child. As soon as the child is born into poverty, they begin to feel the effects of it. They tend to have low birth weight and contain a higher risk of dying during infancy. We watched a video in class that showed that poverty could take a toll on the child’s learning capabilities, and health status. There were stories of children with hyperactivity problems, chronic ear infections which caused hearing loss, and even children who were not receiving the proper amount of nutrients to be able to grow and function correctly. The first years of a child’s life are the most crucial because most of the development of the brain occurs then.

A large problem of childhood poverty is malnutrition. Since these children are growing up in poverty, many of the parents have a hard time supplying food for their kids. Surprisingly, there are millions of children a year, which experience malnutrition. Effects of this problem are hunger, fatigue, dizziness, and re-occurring colds, ear infections, and headaches, they are more irritable, and of course unnecessary weight loss. Not having the proper amount of food supply could also cause iron-deficiency anemia and growth stunt. Anemia is the most common health result of malnutrition. Statistics say that it is three times more likely in preschool children than in children in general.

I was personally surprised at some of the facts regarding childhood poverty. Statistics also showed that children living in poverty (ages 1-5) are three times more likely to suffer from lead poisoning than children in average-income families. It is said that this is generally due to the poor conditioning of their homes. For instance, older homes are generally “out of shape”. Also, lead-based paints are used on and inside these houses. Children, whom reside in these homes, the air that they breathe in contains dust that is created after the paint starts to deteriorate. They might even eat the paint chips because that is the type of thing that children do. Lead poisoning could lead to hearing loss, may stunt growth, causes problems pertaining to kidney development, production of blood, and may also damage the central nervous system and the brain. Lead poisoning may also put a child at risk of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Extremely high amount of lead in the blood of a child’s body could lead to problems such as convulsions, coma, mental retardation, or possibly even death.

Many people, in not all people who live in poverty, do not have health insurance. Children can generally be placed on their parents insurance through a work program, but unfortunately the amount of children which the insurance allows them has been decreasing. The Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) became effective in October ’97 and was proposed to be helpful for as many as five million children over a span of the next ten years.

A set back from the lack of no health insurance means those children experience “episodic health care”. When they need to see a physician, they must go to the emergency room for medical assistance. They do not go for routinely check-ups. Most of the time, the parents are not informed about information such as childproofing their house, immunizations, or balanced diets.

In 1997, the U.S. Conference of Mayors conducted a survey, which showed that the number of families with children that live in shelters was represented b 36%. Financially challenged children are over three times more likely to reside in homes which are inadequate, crowded, etc, than those children whom are not poor. They also have more of a chance of living without heat or possibly even other utilities. Because of their financial status, these children are at the disadvantage. They have no other choice but to have money for sufficient resources or even the most qualified employees.

Most typically, poor children are raised in crime filled neighborhoods. The area is generally filled with many families with little space for everyone. Children are more susceptible to hang around or look up to more negative role models, the area is not as safe as it could or should be, and their parents are at a disadvantage with their jobs because of where they are.

Violence has been rated high among children in poor neighborhoods. The fact that parents are poor puts their children at a higher risk of being neglected or even abused. There have been some cases where parents have caused injuries, which lead to death. Children who were abused are more likely to abuse their own children in the future. Over the years there have been many programs to help rid us of childhood poverty. This is a problem that has been around for a while. You could think of it as a pile of garbage in the corner that has been building up and accumulating for sometime now. The issue here is that in order to terminate childhood poverty, the solution must aid both the child and the caregiver. Also, we as Americans must value our children. They are our future, and as their families we are the most important institution shaping their lives.

Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) is a cash benefit that was established to help out poor families to being self-supporting. In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) replaced AFDC with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant. TANF gives the individual states the option to aid all qualifying families. The PRWORA requires that their recipients work eligible for TANF benefits. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) supplies cash benefits monthly for those people whom are of the age 65 and older, blind, or disabled and do not have much to their name or a big income. The overall idea is that in order for progress to occur or for childhood poverty to decrease, they need to have programs that benefit the parents as well as their children.

A child is an incredible gift. As a pre-parent, you anxiously wait for nine months for the biggest and toughest job of you life…parenthood. Along with parenthood comes the largest amount of responsibility anyone has even been faced with. Their job is to raise their children, and show them the world. Everything is brand new to them, and as a parent, they are the ones who will be introducing their children to everything. The last thing any parent would want for their child is to have tem grow up in poverty. Every year we spend so much money to report to the public that there are children living in poverty. Why spend millions of dollars campaigning an issue which his already known worldwide? That money should be taken and used to help people lift their children and themselves out of poverty. Progress will not be made of we are just going to sit their and cry about it. Childhood poverty is a large issue, which has been and still needs to be dealt with.


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