Children who live in poverty are deprived from material resources and income, which is required for them to develop (Expert Advisory Group , 2012). In 1892 child poverty was sitting at 14% (Botur, 2014)Since then it has almost doubled to 24%, according to the 2014 Child Poverty Monitor report (2014). This means that 260,000 New Zealand children are currently living in poverty. 180,000 children, 17% of the population, suffer from material hardship (Child Poverty Monitor, 2104). Meaning that they go without the basic necessities needed in life, which may include not having access to nutritious food, sufficient clothing, or acceptable living standards. Child poverty has major short and long-term consequences and it is imperative that something is done to fix these issues. “Research shows that children that grow up in poverty tend to have poorer health in adulthood, to gain fewer educational and vocational qualifications, to have higher rates of unemployment, to get into trouble with the law more often, and to die younger” (Every Child Counts, 2015, p. 1). New Zealand need to enforce new ideas to stop this dangerous cycle, and it needs to be done on a big enough scale to make significant difference.
When looking deeper into child poverty, one of the most important effects of this issue is their nutrition. When children live in poor conditions, it is not likely that they will be receiving sufficient meals that are needed to nurture their brain. “There is now a large and increasing body of evidence to indicate that nutrition and health affect children’s cognitive, motor, and behavioural development, both pre- and postnatally.” (Grantham-McGregor, Fernald, & Sethuraman, 1999, p. 53) Because a child’s brain development is so fragile during their early stages of life, it is very important that they are not robbed of their opportunity to develop. The average school day in New Zealand is 6 hours, and the average age for primary school students is 5-12 years old. (Valentine, 2015). 6 hours is a long time for a child that age to be able to stay on track and take in all the information that is needed for the day. They need to have a nutritious breakfast, morning tea and lunch for their brain to be able to reach its full potential of learning.
Looking to the causes of child poverty, New Zealand following a capitalist way of running the economy, is definitely a contributing factor to this huge social issue. A major key word in this is inequality; “The process by which we divide up the resources of any society normally involves exploiting the majority for the benefit of the minority.” (Edwards, 2014, p. 1). This is one of the major roots in child poverty as they are born into these situations with poor living conditions where help is beyond their control. There is a growing divide between those who have, and those who do not. (Rashbrooke, 2012) This can be called the effects of a free-market economy, which is unrestricted competition between privately owned businesses. This means that overall the price of living is able to sky rocket as its main focus is on making money. Because of this the costs of health care, sufficient housing, clothing and all the basic necessities of a child’s life become unreachable for some families. These effects then resulting in the suffering of poor health, overcrowding