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Experiences of Child Poverty Essay

London is the capital of the United Kingdom. The administrative structure in Greater London consists of 32 counties (boroughs) and the City of London, extending over 1584 kilometers ². The population of London is around 7.5 million however throughout Greater London about 13 million people live. The GDP per capita for The UK is $36,500. London is the richest part of Britain and yet it has the highest rates of poverty in the UK. Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria. With an estimated population of 8.8 million inhabitants in the city, or rather 10.7 million in the metropolitan area, Lagos is the second largest city in Africa. The UN estimates that at its present growth rate, Lagos state will be third largest mega city in the world by 2015 after Tokyo in Japan and Mumbai in India. Lagos is the main city of the south-western part of Nigeria, Africa. The GDP per capita in Lagos is $3,649. Over 10,000 people arrive at Lagos every week in search of jobs and most end up in the city’s mega slum do to the lack of job opportunity.

Children living in poverty are those who experience deprivation of the material, spiritual and emotional resources needed to survive, develop and thrive, leaving them unable to enjoy their lives, achieve their full potential or participate as full members of society. The easiest way to quantify child poverty is by setting an absolute or relative monetary threshold. If a family does not earn above that threshold, the children of that family will be considered to live below the poverty line. Absolute poverty thresholds are fixed, whereas relative poverty thresholds are developed with reference to the actual income of the population and reflect changes in consumption. This is not always accurate, as it is only an average and there are people earning millions who affect that average GDP per capita. In poor areas of London there are many problems that face children. The poor areas tend to be in places that lack jobs and job opportunities e.g. Hackney, Such poor areas can really affect the child’s life due to their living conditions.

These children are living in relative poverty as they do have access to clean water, food and shelter which is provided by the state, but are considered poor to the rest of society as they can’t afford luxuries and normally depend upon benefits to get though life. These areas that lack job opportunities have high unemployment rates and so people have low incomes and often relate to crime as it is the culture of the area and people feel they do not get enough support from the government and feel let down and ignored. These poor areas are prime spots for drug dealers and drug addicts. This is significantly bad as they have a low income and so can’t afford the drugs and so they use the money which would have been spent on the children E.g. quality food. Rather than spending the money on better quality food they spend it on the drugs they are dependent on as they are addicted and so the child looses out as they tend to be mall nourished.

Being mall nourished can increase the chances of becoming ill which then in turn means the child is less likely to spend time in school as they are off ill. This then affects their learning and they under achieve which means they have a less chance of ever getting a job and so they are trapped in the poverty cycle. It is then rely difficult for the children to break out of the poverty cycle due to many factors that affect them. Whereas Children living in the slums of Lagos also suffer from poverty, however the majority live in absolute poverty as they do not always have access to clean water, food and shelter, for example these children don’t have access to clean water and so most of the water is contaminated with diseases like cholera. Allot of children catch cholera from drinking dirty water which makes them ill and as most of the children have no access to health care due to their parents being born they can remain ill for a long time and it can be fatal.

Being ill means they cannot help to provide for the family and the money being spent on their health cannot be spent on other vital things like basic food stuffs. It is hard to get out of both cases of poverty; however the children in the slums of Lagos are worse off and have a lower standard of living than the children living in Hackney. The majority of children living in poverty in Lagos are born to poor parents. Because of things like adult poverty, lack of education, unemployment, disabilities and discrimination significantly affect the causes of child poverty. Lack of parental economic resources such as disposable income restricts children’s opportunities and therefore the children are unable to go to school and allot of these children are forced to work. The problem is that allot of these jobs where children are forced to work are very dangerous and can cause injuries, health problems and even death. E.g. the recycling of old oil drums that contain harmful toxins.

The main reason why the children in Hackney are trapped in the poverty cycle is because of the parents/Careers as well. The cycle of poverty is when a family remains in poverty over many successive generations. Family issues can play a big part in the reason for the child being submitted to a life of poverty. If the parents get in debt then this can be the cause of allot of stress, this can also cause the child to have stress which can affect their learning ability and health. Stress can also cause breakups between couples; this can lead to single mothers who are left on their own to support the child and themselves, which can also lead to father stress. Most single parents are unemployed because they haft to look after the children and so they rely on benefits. Teen pregnancies in both MEDC’s and LEDC’s are big causes of child poverty.

Children resulting from unwanted pregnancies are more likely to live in poverty; raising a child requires allot of resources, so each additional child increases demands on parental resources. Families raised by a single parent are generally poorer than those raised by couples. This can be a big issue in LEDC countries such as Lagos. Many teens abandon their children as they simply do not have the resources available to support their child as they cannot claim benefits as they do not exist. Where as in MEDC’s, teen moms are supported by the government and family. The problem in Lagos is that children generally suffer from absolute poverty; however there is also relative poverty. With absolute poverty children generally do not have what they need. They are short of basic food, water, shelter, clothing and adequate or sufficient health care.

Where as in Hackney people do not suffer from absolute poverty and so are better off, however they live in relative poverty that is poverty under relative terms is viewed as being what some people lack in relation to other people. In my opinion the worst experience of child poverty in Lagos would be the lack of Clean water which causes a significant amount of deaths and illnesses and affects the family as a whole as the money used to pay for the child’s healthcare comes from the money normally spent on other necessities like food or education. The government of Nigeria could provide communities with wells however it would cost a phenomenal amount of money , and the majority of the people don’t live on legal grounds as they have just moved there and have not actually paid to live there and so the government would not be allowed to build wells as most of the people don’t have permition to live there in the first place.

The worst experiences for children living in Hackney would be the culture of the area and so children grow up with crime related experiences, this then means that most of the children get brought up with crime and this can keep them in the poverty cycle. The government of Britain could increase prison sentences and increase policing in these areas. This policy would be expensive however it would increase the standards of living for these people and help them get out of relative poverty. Both cases of poverty affect the child’s opportunities in life. This means they are limited jobs available to them or unemployment if there is a lack of job opportunities.

There future generations will probably also live in poverty, whether absolute or relative. They will rarely experience if at all the luxuries and experiences we take for granted. Their only hope getting out of poverty is if the government adopts a poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP) and use schemes like the growth of the cities and urban development, employment opportunities and poverty reduction and housing schemes. Also the best way to reduce child poverty would be to reduce child labour and increase accessibility to education by building more schools and improving the quality of education. This is a key point that governments need to adopt in order to reduce child poverty and help break the poverty cycle.


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