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Poverty and Children in the United States Essay

Poverty is the classification of people that fall under a certain income bracket set by the government. Poverty is broken down in to two groups relative and absolute. Relative poverty is in relation to some people have more where as absolute poverty is considered life-threatening. Poverty affects people of age, race and ethnicity, and gender and family patterns. Each group that is affected typically carries the pattern from one generation the next generation making the social status difficult to change (Macionis, 2006). Although poverty can affect many different types of people those most affected by poverty are the children and women which make up 55 percent of the poor population. There continues to be blame on why people are poor and why they cannot change their lives to do better. Some people believe that it is an endless battle and once poor always poor and it is too difficult to change living situations. Poverty affects children in many ways health, food, shelter, education and exposure to violence. The cause of poverty to children is directly related to poverty in women. The beliefs of the causes of poverty according to the Encyclopedia of Women and Gender (2001), “Individualistic beliefs focus on personality attributes.

These beliefs include irresponsibility, lack of discipline and effort, or lower ability and talent. Structuralistic beliefs incorporate the larger socioeconomic system such as low wages for some jobs, poor schools, prejudice, discrimination, and job availability. Fatalistic beliefs as to the reasons for a person’s poverty status focus on such things as bad luck, chance, and fate.” Most poverty that affects women are those that are single mothers although these women worked they made too much for public assistance but not enough to be able to take care of themselves and their children with proper housing, food, clothing and health care. The lack of health care directly relates to the health of children. When a mother cannot afford health care for herself during pregnancy, health issues are passed to the child. The child is then born with health issues that will continue to go untreated due to lack of health care. The single mother that makes too much to qualify for public assistance, does not make enough to purchase medical coverage for herself and her family (Encyclopedia of Women and Gender (2001). In 1996, policies to the welfare system were changed greatly. Agencies could cut assistance to families without notice. Only women with a child under that age of one were able to get assistance without much red tape. Most states allowed people to be on assistance for a maximum of two years.

There were programs designed to help women get jobs and off welfare but federal minimum wage is not enough to support a family. Without welfare assistance women and their children fall back into poverty (Encyclopedia of Women and Gender (2001). According to Duncan, G., Yeung, W., Brooks-Gunn, J., and Smith, J. (1998), there are many factors the most significant is the relation to the paternal social economic status and how it effects to the child’s and adults achievements. Most that is in a poor social status tend to be poorly educated and have children out of marriage which add an extra strain to the families which can result in physical harm to the child. Adults with children that struggle to feed, clothe and house their children are easily stressed and at times react in extreme punishment to the children blaming the child for the situation that the family is currently in. Once children are exposed to domestic violence and violence upon themselves then the cycle usually continues from generation to generation. Not being able to break the cycle can be a factor of poor education. Poor education is part of living in poor cities urban and rural. Families that are poor are only accepted by those that are like them, poor.

So families that are in these communities seem to be stuck in the social status and cycle. Not knowing how to get out or afraid to get out of that status. If that status is something a person has always known some will not think anything different than that status being a normal way of life. According to Fantuzzo, J., Fusco, R., Mohr, W., & Perry, M. (2007), during violence witnessed by children the perpetrators were more likely to be arrested then times when children were not present. The police officers were concern that it was of great importance to send a message the violence is wrong. When it comes to domestic violence children are likely to have serious issue with development.

These children tend to be more withdrawn from others and have poor social skills. There are many agencies that help assist the children in cases where the children are in danger from others. Such agencies are child protected services (CPS). Services such as CPS assist in placing child in home that will help to protect them from violence and neglect. With all of the research that has been done on how violence affects children in poverty there is no accuracy to the full impact of violence and children. According to Koch (2000), “The child poverty rate has declined slowly since 1993, and the rate of black child poverty is the lowest in history. But 13.5 million American children still live in poverty — the highest rate of any industrialized country.

Conservatives attribute the decline to welfare reform, which forced millions of single welfare mothers to go to work. But child advocates like the Children’s Defense Fund say that progress in reducing child poverty has slowed markedly and that cuts in social service programs made the poorest families poorer.” Today the rich still get richer and it seems that the poor continue to get poorer and the children of these poor families are the ones that are suffering the most. Most of the child poverty is in inner cities (urban areas). Families move to urban areas for better opportunities for themselves and their families but it has not improved these families quality of life. These families want to give their children a better chance to succeed by moving to these urban areas but that idea seems to be failing. Some will say that these families suffer from being dependent on welfare dependency but in truth these child suffer because wages are to low and housing is too high for their parents to be able to make ends meet and try to get ahead of the system. With welfare assistance these children would not have food to eat and medical care. Welfare assistance assists the parents to help provide for the child when their financial income does not adequately provide for the child (Koch, 2000).

The United States is supposed to have the most wealth but with that wealth the United States also has the highest child poverty as illustrated in the above chart (Koch, 2000). Most families that fall in to the poverty level make minimum wage jobs and will never be able to get out of the poverty level. With these families they are usually poor educated which greatly impacts their earnings. Since some families work more than one job to try to make ends meet there is not time to try to better educate them. The children of these families learn from example and will continue to develop the habits of their parents. Working low paying jobs to provide food, clothing and shelter from their children will continue to be the pattern and education will be far down on the list (Koch, 2000).

There has been some change to welfare reform law called Charitable Choice, this changes has made it easier for the government to be able to contract religious groups to provide social services to the poor. Many programs have come from this reform like Big Brothers/Big Sisters which is a mentoring program that helps children see a different way of life and have a positive role model to help encourage these poor children to stay in school, go to college and understand that though they may come from poor families does not mean that they have to continue in the path of their parents.

These programs help children to gain confidence in the child. These programs also cut first time drug use by half and violent acts by a third. Although faith based organizations cannot replace the government programs faith based organization over lap government programs by 75 percent which include medical aid, housing, help pay bills for heating and water and educational programs to help those get back on their feet to help better provide for their families (Koch, 2000). Poverty affects everyone not just the people living in poverty. The group that is most affected by poverty is the child. Without proper care and basic needs taken care of these children of poverty will become ill and some of these children die. These children have poor education and many do not stay in school to get there high school diploma.

The children of poverty usually drop out of school to help provide for those that are in the home assisting their parents in paying the bills and providing food. These jobs are once again low paying jobs and the cycle continues. Without proper education the pattern will never end, with government assistance and faith based organizations to help these families and mentor their children will help for these children to get out of the poor status and has a chance to get off government assistance in the future. Everyone needs to be aware that although the United States is considered a wealthy country, there is poverty in the United States and the people need to work together to break the cycle and make sure that the child are taken care of, so they can live a productive, healthy and happy life.

Duncan, G., Yeung, W., Brooks-Gunn, J., & Smith, J. (1998). How much does childhood poverty affect the life chances of children? American Sociological Review, 63(3), 406-423. Retrieved April 4, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Complete. (Document ID: 30936057). Fantuzzo, J., Fusco, R., Mohr, W., & Perry, M. (2007). Domestic Violence and Children’s

Presence: A Population-based Study of Law Enforcement Surveillance of Domestic
Violence. Journal of Family Violence, 22(6), 331-340. doi:10.1007/s10896-007-9080-4. Koch, K. (2000, April 7). Child poverty. CQ Researcher, 10, 281-304. Retrieved April 4, 2010, from CQ Researcher Online, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2000040700. Macionis, J.J. (2006) Society: The Basics Eighth Edition, Published by Prentice-Hall Poverty and Women in the United States. (2001). In Encyclopedia of Women and Gender: Sex

Similarities and Differences and the Impact of Society on Gender. Retrieved from

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