Is Child Poverty the same as Child Well-being?
Introduction: Poverty is one of the biggest problems facing the world today. The fact that it is present even in developed countries is appalling. It becomes even more difficult in these times of economic uncertainties. There are many causes for poverty. Mismanagement of a country’s natural resources is one among many and when it is paired with the unpredictability of climate change and environmental disasters there is not much any administration can do other than damage control. The section of society most affected by poverty is children. Even though poverty passes through various layers of the society children are the worst hit because they are the most vulnerable. This essay shall look at the concepts, Child Poverty and Child Well-being and try to understand the relation between these two if any and the differences among them. It is important to understand what the word ‘childhood’ actually means. It does not simply mean the time period from when a baby is born to when it becomes an adult. It refers to the quality of life of a child and how those years have helped a child to fully grow and reach his or her potential. A child who has been forced to do sexual labour or to take up arms will not have any childhood per se. Children who are deprived of basic necessities like education, proper sanitation, and a shelter are also robbed of their childhood. It is only when a child nears adulthood that cultures across the world start having expectations about them. It is therefore universally understood that childhood is a time span when the child must be allowed to play, develop and mature. (Bellamy 2004) Poverty has been considered as a situation where a family is financially unable to satisfy its basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. Though this seems like a satisfactory explanation it fails to ignore the various dimensions of poverty and does not focus on the actual problems. Even though reducing poverty has been one of the main priorities for nations across the world, no efforts have been made to fully understand it. So far poverty has been considered as a condition arising out of monetary deficiency. Nothing is farther from the truth. Poverty cannot be removed by monetary means alone. Eradication of the problem is only possible when the dimensions of poverty and how it affects the entire family is understood. Families are not merely a group of people of varying ages who live together; they provide an environment that has to be conducive to the nourishment and growth of its members. “Both adults and children experience poverty not simply through a lack of goods and resources but also through an interplay of social, cultural and political factors such as stigmatization, humiliation and insecurity.”(Woodsworth, D, McPeak, M & Feeny T 2005). Proper understanding of the effects of poverty on children has not been possible because of the fact that poverty has been seen only in the context of ‘household’ and ‘family’ issues. The problem with addressing poverty with monetary solutions takes the focus away from the hardships that children face in the situation because a child may have many needs and not all of them can be fulfilled with money alone. Children are more adversely affected by poverty, probably because they cannot comprehend it fully. Though they are aware of some of the problems created by the paucity of basic needs they are more sensitive to the effects that can be had on relationships and the humiliation that results. It can be safely assumed that “the child’s experience of poverty is powerfully relational” (Woodsworth, D, McPeak, M & Feeny T 2005) Many organisations have identified Child Poverty as a unique problem and defined it. In the State of the world’s children, 2005, UNICEF has defined children living in poverty as follows: “Children living in poverty are those who experience deprivation of the material, spiritual and emotional resources needed to survive...
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