Explore the Relationship Between Poverty and Anti-Social Behaviour

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Explore the relationship between poverty and antisocial behaviour. What policies have been introduced to tackle antisocial behaviour?

In this essay I will highlight the psychological effects that poverty is likely to have on a person living in the western world and the possible behavioural consequences of this. I will discuss the problems that go along with children and young people being given prison sentences and I will suggest one viable change that may help to promote equality. Poverty in itself is not a direct cause of antisocial behaviour but the two are very much intertwined in our modern day individualistic society. Social hierarchy and elevated inequality amplify worries over self-worth across society. Most of us wish to feel accepted, appreciated and valued for who we are but a society that causes large amounts of people feel as though they are perceived as inferior and considered as less worthy, less valuable, less intelligent and a drain on the state not only causes unnecessary pain suffering and wasted potential, but also acquires the costs of the antisocial responses to the structures that demean them. Research shows a clear link between on-going poverty and negative developmental consequences. Mental health issues, behavioural problems, low self-esteem, depression, poor grades, anti-social behaviour and delinquency are all, unsurprisingly, in our society, far more prevalent among poor people. (mc Leod and shanahan 1996) The effect that poverty has on a person’s sense of self and identity is colossal. The intense stress of being poor, the stigma attached to being poor, the marginalization from greater society and the massive limitations in opportunity are extremely likely to result in undesirable psychological outcomes. Poor children quite often experience feelings such as embarrassment or shame (which have been described as the social emotions) and tend to see themselves in a negative light as a result of negative societal views. (weinger 1998) School plays a huge part in the development of a child and is generally considered to be a place where hard work and good grades are the things that matter and a place where ones socioeconomic status is largely irrelevant when it comes to achieving these things but this is unhappily not so and in fact school plays a central part in the stigmatisation of the poor. The majority of teachers have grown up in middle class family’s and as a direct result of this they are extremely prone to holding class based biases towards the low income students. Research has shown that teachers tend to have much lower expectations of low income pupils, viewing them in a less positive light, punishing them in a harsher and more humiliating manner than they would their more affluent peers, rewarding them less for achievements and delivering them less opportunities. (Brantlinger 1991) The psychological development of a child is very much affected by this kind of treatment and it is likely that a child will create their identity based on other peoples negative opinions, perceiving themselves to be flawed and labelling themselves as all the things they've been called, for example bad, stupid, dangerous etc which in itself is highly likely to result in Internalizing (eg depression, anxiety, self-loathing) or externalising (eg shouting, fighting, stealing) behaviours (Erikson 1980). Poor children in general experience noisier, more crowded living conditions, more family instability, chaos, violence and inconsistent punishment which is very often more to cope with than their young resources will allow and again, is likely to result in internalizing or externalising behaviours. Poor children have lower career aspirations and lower educational aspirations which highlights their awareness of the lack of opportunities available to them, unfortunately a very accurate awareness because "although people function as independent actors, the possibilities they face, and the decisions they make...
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