Socio-economic inequality leads to poverty amongst individuals. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines poverty as “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions.” The concept of poverty is complicated because there are many factors that help aid in an individual being affected by poverty. Individuals who are typicly affected by poverty have low financial income, and they have low social status in society (Woolf, Steven H. et al., 2006). The factors that are directly linked to poverty is labor wages, race, family demographics, cultural factors, and government policies.
All of these factors shape the way poverty is developed and sustained overtime. The biggest challenge poverty imposes on an individual is health. Poverty is directly linked to inequalities in human development (Murray, Sally et al.
, 2007). Poverty shrinks the ability for an individual to receive access to healthcare because of the inability to have the financial means to pay for the services; or because healthcare services are not in the reach of the individual because of their demographic location (Murray, Sally et al., 2007). Those who are affected by poverty tend to have poorer working conditions, increased exposure to diseases, poor housing, inadequate sanitation, higher mortality rates, unhealthy diets, increased rate of chronic illnesses, and lower education levels (Blewitt & Broderick, 2015). When a person experiences poverty, they have a higher rate of being stifled physically, mentally, socially, and economically because of the inequalities that poverty presents to them. Poverty is important to the field of human development because it is a major contributor to how an individual’s lifespan development can be negatively affected biologically and psychologically.
By understanding how poverty systematically works, we can evaluate how it can impact a person’s development from infancy, childhood, and adolescents to adulthood (Woolf, Steven H. et al., 2006).
Poverty can impact a person at any age. Infants, children, adolescence, and adults are all impacted by poverty, but infants and children who are affected by poverty have bigger human development issues. The foundation of human development starts as early as infancy. If a child has experienced poverty in their early life stages they are more susceptible socioemotional problems, neglect, abuse, behavior and physical health problems, and even developmental delays. Poverty can delay an infant or child’s growth because there lack of nutrition, adequate healthcare, proper childcare, under resourced education, and living conditions. (Murray, Sally et al., 2007). Overtime, the effects of poverty not only effects the physical and psychological growth of a human, it begins to affect other parts of their lives. Most people that live in poverty begin to struggle not only at home, but a school, social surroundings, neighborhood, and in the community.
The impact of poverty can be seen in all ages of the lifecycle physically and psychologically. Children and teens that live in poor communities are at a higher risk for behavioral and emotional problems. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety are all psychological and emotional disorders and issues that are linked to children and teens that live in poor communities (Rita Hamad & David H. Rehkopf, 2016). Poverty can trigger stress over excessive amounts of stress on children. Living in low-income communities, children witness the stress poverty has on their family and parents. In a journal article written by The American Psychological Association, the article examines the impact parental stress from poverty has on children, saying that poverty and economic hardship is particularly difficult for parents who may experience chronic stress, depression, marital distress and exhibit harsher parenting behaviors. These are all linked to poor social and emotional outcomes for children. Environmental factors of living in low-income poverty stricken communities can also effect the psychosocial development of children and teens. Children and teens that live in poorer communities are exposed to more violence, gangs, and unsafe social environments. Exposure to violence at an early age can have negative psychological effects on children, and can aid in individuals participating in violent behavior (Blewitt & Broderick, 2015). Violence in communities plagued by poverty, can lead to higher mortality, injuries, criminality, and higher incarceration rates among all ages (Murray, Sally et al., 2007). A person who is consumed by poverty through childhood and teenage years have potential risk for many health problems. Low birth weight, anemia, asthma, pneumonia, obesity, and unhealthy behaviors are all potential problems for children and teens who live in poverty stricken communities. Overtime, the effects of poverty can potentially transition over to adulthood. Poverty also effects adults biologically and psychologically as well. Adults who live in poverty struggle with poor education, inadequate healthcare, unsafe living conditions, low wages, mental health issues, stress, unbalanced diet, low self-esteem, and much more.
Poverty can impact the socio-emotional development of a human being throughout the lifespan. A person’s feelings, emotions, morals, beliefs, and ethics are all developed overtime by our socio-economic environment, family, and upbringing. People who have been exposed to poverty and live in poverty stricken communities have to react and interact with the social environment in which they live in. If a person lives in an environment that is stricken by poverty, violence, heath disparities, high levels of stress, and social-inequalities, the way they respond to situations, caregivers, and strangers can be impacted. Problems of temperament, aggression, and the ability to get along with others are effects of those living in poverty because of the elevated dangers of violence in the low-income community (Loughan & Perna, 2012).
Cognitive development of a person effected by poverty is possible because of the environment can adversely affect the maximum usage of the brain at an early age. Authors, Ashlee Loughan and Perna believe that poverty and neglect are two factors that majorly contributes to a child’s cognitive growth. The authors also discovered through their research that children who experience emotional neglect have problems with their speech, interaction, memory, attention, brain dysfunctions, and social skills (Loughan & Perna, 2012). Brain disruption can be linked to poverty and neglect that a child has experienced from a caregiver. Cognitive and emotional development of a child can be delayed, and can affect the child’s ability to learn, process information, and brain growth. Emotional and behavioral disorders can also be linked to poverty and neglect a child receives in early childhood stages. The impact of poverty has an essential part in the development of a child’s cognitive, social, emotional, and relationship growth. It is important for those working in the human development field that poverty has a biological and psychological impact on a person that can plague the growth of a human being throughout all the life stages (Blewitt & Broderick, 2015).
As a Christian human service professional, we have to look to the bible for guidance on the subject of poverty. The bible says in Proverbs 19:17, “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” It is essential that we as Christian human service professionals and thin e church, help those who are poor and in need. We have to walk in the footsteps of the lord, and help the children who are poor, they can’t control where they grow up or who is there caregiver, and it is our duty to implement programs through the church, and organization to aid these children. The children today are the leaders of our future, and we have to do a better job to combat poverty, regardless of the decisions that their parents or guardians made to lead them into poverty. Mark 10:13-16 says, “People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” If we are true followers of Christ, we can’t try to push away children that need love, guidance, and aid; we have to embrace and bless them like Jesus Christ did.
While working in low-income communities that are effected by poverty, human service professionals have to work within these communities to implement, maintain, and grow programs to improve the quality of life. To effectively help people in society that are going through hard times physically, mentally, or economically. To effectively bring aid and help communities in poverty, Human Service professionals must be able to understand how to communicate and navigate within these communities, to be successful. By embracing the culture, and not trying to change the culture, human service professionals can gain trust to the communities in need. Once gaining trust, it is important for human service professionals to be innovative and creative in strategies and implementation of services and programs to reach people who are affected by poverty. By involving the school system, community centers, law enforcement, churches, and park and recreation services, human services professionals can build up a network to create programs that will combat poverty. Programs that assist in nutrition, exercise, job placement, education, food banks, sexual education, transportation, and mental health should be included to help assist families and people that are effected by poverty. Most importantly, getting the participation of the community you are serving is important in the success of a human service professional trying to help combat poverty in families, individuals, and community. By using the networks built, a human service professional can be successful helping those dealing with poverty.
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