What Is Child Poverty?
Child poverty is a state of economic inequality in which some children grow up with limited or even no access to the resources they need to develop into healthy and productive adults, including adequate food, shelter, medical care, and education. These children may be members of working poor families or they may be orphans sometimes left to their own devices in regions with little government support for them. The cycle of poverty generally follows these children throughout their lives, and they often have statistically high chances of becoming poor adults as well.
The poverty threshold is a benchmark for measuring levels of income disparity, and it can vary from one geographic region to the next. Children living in families whose annual income is below the equivalent of $20,000 US Dollars (USD) are usually defined as living in child poverty in many countries. They often have parents who are able to earn only minimum wage due to limited education, resulting in financial stresses that can sometimes significantly disrupt family life. These children also tend to underperform in school, score lower on standardized tests, and drop out of high school in greater percentages.
Lack of access to health care is an additional concern related to child poverty. Poor children generally have higher chances of contracting one of the common diseases of poverty such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, or malaria. Many of these illnesses can be attributed to improper building ventilation, poor sanitation, and inadequate nutrition. Young people growing up in poverty are often not covered by any health insurance, so they also may not receive regular preventative care such as vaccinations.
Street children present some of the most serious cases of child poverty. Many of them find themselves on their own following parental deaths or abandonment. They typically lack any kind of support system and frequently resort to criminal activity in order to survive. Many children living on the streets in some areas may lack birth certificates, having been born outside of hospitals, rendering them ineligible for any social services that their local region is able to provide. Street children are disproportionally at risk for becoming victims of exploitation or violent crime.
Childhood poverty can lead to noticeable social costs as poor children grow into adulthood. Some prove to be less educated and less productive workers than their counterparts who did not grow up in poverty. Others can turn to lives of crime and thus increase the taxpayer costs of the justice system.
Unfortunately, I have never had a chance to visit children in poverty. Regardless, for the past six months or so, I have been planning to go on a mission trip to a poverty stricken area. I don't know what to expect, and I know it won't be easy, but I have prepared myself for this day. I have heard that mission trips can be a life changing experience, and it's something I may never forget.
@Hazali - I've always been under the impression that people ignore that poverty because of the way the media portrays it. Let's look at it this way. Have you ever seen those commercials with the sad looking cats and dogs? Notice how people tend to turn away from those commercials because their emotions are manipulated. Well, in some ways, the same can be said for children in poverty. More often than not, the media tends to "exploit" them, especially in commercials. They're portrayed in a rather inhumane way, and it turns he viewers away from wanting to do something about it. That's just my take on it anyway.
While I have never been a victim of child poverty, I can only imagine what children go through in other countries. However, the thing that bothers me the most about it is that it seems to go completely ignored, at least for the most part. When many people see or hear about it, though they tend to think it's sad, they just shrug their shoulders and move on.
Also, I will admit that I've been guilty of this too. Overall, when it comes to people who are less fortunate than us, I think one problem might be that because we're not in that situation, we tend to take what we have for granted, not taking anyone else into consideration.
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