Risks Of Children In Poverty

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Risks of Children in Poverty
Spencer McNeil
Texas A&M University – Commerce

Poverty is a complicated thing within our world, and trying to figure out all the causes of it tends to be even more difficult. A lot of people believe that poor people cause their own poverty, because they believe that in every circumstance ‘anything is possible’ but in all cases this couldn’t be any further from the truth. I feel as though one of the real problems is they are usually uneducated people so they are usually forced to work minimum wage jobs and a lot of times minimum wage is just not enough to support an entire family. Another problem that could be is debt; some people do not start in poverty but end up there because of medical bills for health conditions they could not control. There is no one reason for the problem that is poverty but there are many risks that are associated with it and especially when it comes to the case of speaking on children.

All children are at risk just because they are young and dependent on others for their survival in the world, but children that live in poverty are at even more of a risk. It has been well established that early exposure to poverty is linked to children’s future functioning along multiple domains, including behavior problems (Linver, Brooks-Gunn, & Kohen, 2002), self-regulatory skills (Raver, Blair, Willoughby, & The Family Life Project Key Investigators, 2013), and academic performance (Duncan & Brooks-Gunn, 1997; Duncan, Yeung, Brooks-Gunn, & Smith, 1998). According to past research there is a clear negative connection between poverty and children’s brain development. These children do not have all of the things they need to succeed from an early age. As we learned in class, parent child connection is one of the most basic and essential things a young child needs, and sadly in most cases of poverty the parent is not involved or is too stressed or tired to be involved in a positive way. It is hard imagining a child being able to go through such circumstances and still survive and become a healthy contributing part of society. In one of my counseling classes we spoke of poverty and it is thought that more than 16 million children are living in poverty, which is nearly 22 percent of all children and of that nearly 6 million of those children were under the age of 6. Such young children are easily influenced by the living situations and environments and most never are able to recover from the experiences that had during the poverty.

Poverty and risk are unequally distributed across racial and ethnic groups in the United States. Greater proportions of African American (35%) and Latino (31%) children live in poverty than White (11%) and Asian (15%) children (Wight, Chau, & Aratani, 2010). In addition, family risk factors are more prevalent among racial/ethnic minority families than White families (Hatch & Dohrenwend, 2007; Kilmer, Cowen, Wyman, Work, & Magnus, 1998). In this study African American and Latino have the highest percentage of children in poverty but the outcomes of the adult tend to differ. Children living in poverty that are African American and Latino that only have one parent in the household tend to have less problems as adults than do white children. This was very interesting because it showed that poverty was different among race and ethnicity, which I did not expect to see because I assumed all children behavior was pretty generalized and universal. Different cultures all raise their children a lot differently, that could be the reason for why there is a difference between all of the races and ethnicities.

One of the major risks of children in poverty is illiteracy. These children most likely do not attend any type of school on a regular basis and if they do attend school the school is likely to not be a very good school. According to Department for Education statistics, by the end of primary school, pupils receiving free school meals