Children in Poverty: Issues from the Book Thief

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Children in Poverty
Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief, does a wonderful job portraying the life of Liesel Meminger, a poor German girl suffering the effects of poverty, yet trying to make the best of life where it seems most unlikely. He expresses her hardships in such a realistic way that makes the reader feel sympathy for his characters--all of which are struck with poverty. Child poverty has been around for years and is still caused by problems in family structure, educational issues, and even economical problems. It is obvious that there are government programs and charities that are designed to help the poor but a person who needs financial aid or support should go find help instead of waiting for help to come to them. Due to various causes, child poverty is an unfavorable issue world-wide that has harmful effects towards those involved and, although some say poverty is not an important matter, people need to become more aware of the situation and help the needy.

To begin with, there are many causes of poverty but to be more specific, the causes of child poverty revolve around one key factor: family income, which distinguishes whether or not a child is considered to be in poverty. A family’s income depends on the level of education of the heads of the household, the state of the economy, and the family structure. The level of education is an important indicator of who will get what job and thus who will have a higher or lower income in a society. Work places tend to hire highly educated people because companies know that the more educated a person is, the more likely that person is to have a better quality of work. People who have only earned a high school education find it harder to earn as much money as more highly educated people since there is a “decreased value of wages earned by lower educated workers,” (Wood). Because of this, parents with low education have difficulties keeping a job and staying above the poverty line. Another imperative aspect of a family’s income is the economical situation at the given time. For example, if an economy is in a crisis, it will become challenging for poor families to find jobs, thus increasing child poverty (“Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth”). One can infer that a suffering economy will result in strengthening the effects of poverty on the youth. The most significant determinant that distinguishes whether a child is in poverty is the child’s family structure. It is said by David Wood of Pediatrics magazine that nearly a third of all children in poverty live in a family with a single mother (Wood). Mothers are more likely to stay home or work fewer hours in order to care for their children while the fathers work as the main support of the family. If a father was taken out of a family for any reason, the mother would be forced to often leave her children to work more in order to support her family. All in all, the factors that influence income are the causes of child poverty.

Furthermore, poverty has harmful effects towards anyone included in it; however there are particular effects more prevalent in poor children than in any other age group in poverty, one of them being health risks. First of all, children born into poverty tend to have lower birth weights. Children born into low income families are more likely to have a low birth weight which then makes poor children more subject to physical and mental disabilities (Brooks-Gunn and Duncan). Children born into poverty with an unhealthy birth weight will lead very challenging lives and their futures can potentially be at risk because of these disabilities. In addition to low birth weights, children in poverty will most likely suffer from malnourishment and hunger. According to Brooks-Gunn and Duncan of Princeton, poor children are “almost twice as likely to be in fair or poor health as nonpoor children” (57). Poor families do not have the money to afford healthy food for their...
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