The Effects of Poverty on Children and the Elderly

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The Effects of Poverty on Children

Liberty University

Human Services 500-C06

Dr. Sheila Speight

Kathy V. Jones

April 6, 2012

Abstract

Why should it matter that our country has not been able to ensure that every child has a safe and nurturing childhood? The percentage of children living in poverty in the United States has risen significantly in the last few years. The negative long term effects of poverty can extend from birth into adulthood. Research will show that these children and their families are at risk in many ways and that they will face challenges that will ultimately affect how they will function in this society. The stress of poverty upon the family unit causes family dysfunction and inadequate parenting. Physical health, emotional stability, behavioral health, cognitive and academic abilities, and teenage pregnancy are all a result of socioeconomic disparities in this country. There are no easy solutions but childhood poverty must either be reduced or alleviated. This calls for vast improvements in our economic and public policies. High unemployment rates and the lack of jobs for the disadvantaged will continue to increase unless society can begin to better understand the effects of poverty on the children in this country.

The Effects of Poverty on Children

Children raised in poverty face a myriad of problems related to their lack of the most basic needs. The negative long term effects of poverty can lead to significant increases in aggression, depression, and can cause delays in the physical and emotional development of a child. The economic hardships faced by children living under these conditions create an experience that is steeped with familial dysfunction. Many children in this country face many challenges due to the poverty stricken conditions in which they live. The economic changes of the last two decades in the United States has caused more families to be socially and economically disadvantaged. This has had devastating consequences for the lives of parents, the effective functioning of families, and the physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral development of children who live in poverty. (Sandoval,2009).

Disadvantages of Children Living in Poverty

These children face many long term disadvantages that they may or may not be able to overcome, especially in the areas of education and employment opportunities. Parents may be unemployed or even underemployed. Many parents have to work more than one job in order to make ends meet so that they can provide for their families. Poverty can increase children’s exposure to inferior health care, poor parenting and child care, inferior housing and poor nutrition. As a society we should be committed to nurturing our children and ensuring that they all are able to play and learn, be healthy and develop in a safe environment. Children raised in poverty experience much higher levels of stress which often leads to depression and their rejection of society. The experience of long term poverty affects a child’s personality development due to the stress of poverty. This causes family dysfunction, stress among

caregivers, and inadequate parenting. The stress of living in poverty puts severe strains on the relationships between the parent and the children, resulting in feelings of depression and anxiety.

Addressing the Needs of Children in Poverty

Child poverty in the United States continues to persist despite a range of social services that were designed to reduce poverty and improve the economic conditions of the poor and disadvantaged in this country. The poor economy in the United States resulted in job losses and a housing crisis for many Americans in the past few years. Many of these families were doing fine and managing to stay afloat during the recession but now they too are finding themselves unable...
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