The children in this book at times seem wise beyond their years. They are exposed to difficult issues that force them to grow up very quickly. Almost all of the struggles that the children face stem from the root problem of intense poverty. In Mott Haven, the typical family yearly income is about $10,000, "trying to sustain" is how the mothers generally express their situation. Kozol reports "All are very poor; statistics tell us that they are the poorest children in New York." (Kozol 4). The symptoms of the kind of poverty described are apparent in elevated crime rates, the absence of health care and the lack of funding for education.
High crime rates not only put the children at risk as potential victims but also robs them of the male role models that are vital to their development. Most of the fathers of the Mott Haven community are incarcerated in a nearby prison. The children are aware of this fact and often visit the jail. Kozol describes an intimate conversation with a group of children in the sanctuary of St. Ann's in which several of the children reveal that they miss their fathers... [continues]
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