Serving the Common Good
“Forty five percent of children in America live in low-income families” (Child Poverty 1). The many negative effects a low-income environment causes can greatly impact a child’s life. Keeping these children motivated to be successful and to get out of this negative environment can be difficult. As a Sport Management major, I plan to serve the common good by volunteering my time working with local high school volleyball teams located in Pontiac, Michigan. My goal is to motivate these young women to finish high school and get out of Pontiac.
Pontiac is rated as one of the most dangerous cities to reside in Michigan. In 2010, the violent crime rate for Pontiac was higher than Michigan’s violent crime rate by 246.5 percent and higher than the national violent crime rate average by 320.86 percent (Pontiac Crime Rate Report 1). (See Figure 1)
The environment these kids are surrounded by is clearly not safe and can have a negative influence on them. This could be a reason why the graduation rates for both high schools in Pontiac are approximately fifty seven percent (Pontiac, MI 1). Along with that, it is proven that African American children who live in low-income areas have a 76 percent chance of graduating high school; compared to African American kids who live in affluent areas who have a 96 percent graduation rate. White children living in low-income areas have a 87 percent chance of graduating compared to white children who live in affluent areas have a 95 percent graduation rate (Children Living In Low… 1). Clearly regardless of race, living in low-income areas has a drastic result on graduation rates. There could be many reasons why so many students do not graduate. For example, with Pontiac having twenty one percent unemployment rate and the income per capita being approximately 38.2 percent less than the national average, many of these high school students may have to work to help provide for their families (Pontiac, MI 1). This can cause stress and not enough time to focus on their studies. Therefore, resulting in them dropping out to work full time. Also, in some of these homes, education may not be a priority. Due to the fact that approximately sixty three percent of low-income mothers had their first child as a teenager, they most likely dropped out of high school as well (Gassman-Pines 19). So, it is not roll modeled for their children to push through and graduate regardless of the circumstances. With the very high pregnancy rate in Pontiac, many of the girls drop out as well feeling as though they cannot have a baby and finish high school (Pontiac, MI 1). Hopefully by me motivating these girls, the pregnancy rate on the women’s volleyball teams in Pontiac will decrease and they will focus on graduating.
There is a significant amount of research being done on the effects low-income environments have on children and families. In Anna Gassman-Pines article “Low-Income Mothers Nighttime and Weekend Work: Daily Associations With Child Behavior, Mother-Child Interactions, and Mood” she discusses the reasons why low-income mothers have such a difficulty maintaining a healthy family environment. Many low-income parents work at night or on weekends because those are the jobs available. These parents who work during these hours have less time available to spend with their family, especially children. This makes it very difficult for these parents to establish family routines. When family routines are disrupted, family relationships weaken and have negative consequences for the behavior and well being for both the parents and children (17). The absence of parental supervision can have a detrimental impact. According to the National Center For Children in Poverty’s article “Ten Important Questions About Child Poverty and Family Economic Hardship”, children living in low-income environments are likely to have behavioral, emotional, and social problems....
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