Over not having money, but child poverty

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     Over 900 million people around the world – or 1 in 7 people – are still living in extreme poverty. According to UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), forty-seven percent of those living in extreme poverty are eighteen years old or younger. The global issue that is at hand is that children find themselves in extreme poverty because of their parents or for other reasons are being negatively affected. At the end of the day, poverty greatly affects a child’s life in a negative way. Child poverty adversely affect a child’s life because it affects cognitive abilities, school achievement, and health. With child poverty, the main problem does not have to do with the children themselves, but with the economy. According the North-East Child Poverty Commission, poverty is caused by not having money, but child poverty is caused by a lack of jobs, low wages, and insecure employment in remaining jobs. This means it falls onto the parents’ hands. If parents, who have children, do not or cannot work, the burden will be casted onto their offspring meaning the children will be paying the price for something they had no control over. Important key terms to know are Cycle of deprivation, disabilities, and cognitive abilities. The cycle of deprivation is when inferior lifestyle choices made within a family lead to limited opportunities for the children which prevents families from escaping poverty thus causing this poverty cycle to ‘recycle’ to the new generation. Disabilities are impairments that may be cognitive, developmental, physical, or sensory. Cognitive abilities are brain-based skills such as problem solving, remembering, and paying attention.      Some advocates for children who are in poverty are people like Cindy Levin (an anti-poverty activist and volunteer that raised enough money for [email protected] to vaccinate over 100 children against polio and aided Ugandan mothers raise their children in poverty) and Mark Goldring (as the CEO of Oxfam, he spent decades working for international development). The source Scientific American (a United States source) describes how poverty negatively affects children’s cognitive development. The thesis of this argument is that poverty is directly linked to smaller brain surface area. Main points that are present are that poverty equals less brain tissue, children that grow up in poor families cannot perform well, and children from low-income families are exposed to environmental stressors. The reason poverty is strongly associated with having smaller brain surface area is due to researchers finding a considerably smaller amount of ‘gray matter’ in less fortunate children in comparison to more fortunate children. Gray matter being areas where cognitive abilities reside. Children who grow up in low-income families had gray matter volumes between eight to ten percent below the normal level. Because of this, school is not the number one priority but instead placed on the backburners. Children from low-income households are sadly regularly exposed to environmental stressors. These environmental stressors include junk food or unsafe neighborhoods. This deteriorates a child’s mind, eventually pushing that child to be flustered and not be able to focus on one thing. The argument that poverty equals less intelligent children is very significant in today’s world. In places like the Philippines and Uganda, you can find disabled or children that are behind others in general and they just cannot keep up with the pace at which the rest of the world moves. Strengths of this argument are that the origins of this source came from a well-known company – Scientific American – and the research that was conducted in the article was research that was conducted by well decorated and highly capable professionals. The strengths influence the quality of the argument in a positive way because the validity of the information given is respectable. The weaknesses that the arguments made by this source pose are that it is from a well-known source. Therefore, if anything that is publicized could be taken as true even though in reality, the given information is false. Also with the control group that the researchers used, many holes can be found since such a small handful of children were used to conduct an experiment the results generalize how every other child supposedly should act under certain conditions. The aspects of this source that decrease credibility are the fact that the source is from a website that posts biased information in favor of children, showing that counter arguments are not present. This factor influences the source’s argument because it makes it weaker because of the holes that are present (bias and not enough research given). Therefore, although there are deficiencies, child poverty greatly affects cognitive abilities negatively.      Having an exceptional work ethic is what most believe is the key to a path of success. Is this valid? People like Marissa Mayer (Yahoo CEO) and Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks Owner) used their hard work ethic to reach great heights. Marissa Mayer constantly pulled all-nighters and worked 130-hour weeks while she worked at Google and Mark Cuban did not take a vacation for seven years to start his first business. While these influential figures were not hit with poverty in their childhoods, young ones sadly meet that fate. Children who grow up or find themselves in poverty have a decreased work ethic or a do not have a will to work for success. Ylsak Tafere (the author of Children’s Experiences and Perceptions of Poverty in Ethiopia) states that the reasons that poverty so greatly affects work ethics of children around the world is because of how children tend to grow up. They want to find jobs that are highly valued but they sadly do not have the qualifications needed to gain that position. Because of living conditions and other environmental reasons, children find themselves taking the least desired jobs and are not satisfied, causing them to hate working thus losing a hard work ethic. The significance of this argument is that in Ethiopia, children in poverty just do not have the opportunities to excel like other children. The strengths of this source is that they use outside examples such as children in Ethiopia instead of in the United States, showing a range of examples and not being one-sided. Weaknesses are that they focus on one outside country and not a variety, causing the information pool to not be vast. The aspects of this source that increase credibility of the source on this topic of discussion is that Ethiopian children have a small amount of opportunities. This makes the credibility of the source more trustworthy. Thus, poverty adversely affects a child’s work ethic.        While most do believe that poverty has an adverse effect on children, there are others who think otherwise. The source’s argument is that poverty is good business and will help a child in the future. The source WeMeantWell.com states that food business adores food stamps and that these food stamps help fund large businesses such as Wal-Mart and Target from the United States to Asia. With this funded money, these corporations can use their earnings to pay their workers. These large corporations know that they are not positively affecting children’s lives now but they expect to give those same children good jobs in the future. The significance of this argument is that these businesses see poverty for children as a good thing because it gives them future opportunities to be able to make money and live. Strengths of this argument are that there are proven facts that back up the assertion that businesses and poverty go together. Weaknesses are that it is generalized that ‘good business’ will aid the poorer class children in their immediate futures. Compared to the previous argument that poverty affects children’s long-term work ethic, this argument does not make as much logical sense. Being a business and ‘expecting’ poor children (now grown-ups) to want to take your job as soon as possible just is not the way to think. On the other hand, being in poverty DOES effect a child’s work ethic because no matter what it is they would do, their mind would be stuck on the fact that they are in a hole and can never get out. That hole is ten-thousand feet deep, they cannot get out of it and it has a word engraved into it that reads “POVERTY”. With all of this, although many do believe that poverty has detrimental effect on children, there are other aspects of poverty that can in some way aid the children, maybe not immediately but in their futures.       Personally, the issue of children being raised poverty is quite disturbing. No matter what happens, the children are still kids, and when you’re a kid you cannot do much to take yourself out of your pre-existing dilemma. It is honestly up to the parents to be able too first teach their children that being poor does not mean they cannot do anything the dream to do and secondly, to try their best as a mother or father to bring their family out of poverty. I think about this issue the way I do because there are many children out there who have subpar living conditions and below average parents. There are children who have never seen new textbooks or new sneakers, so everything they own is old and worn down. That is what they see the world as being and it just is not fair they cannot gain the same opportunities that others have handed to them. The one argument that swayed me to believe that child poverty diminished a child’s view on life is the fact that poverty causes a child to lack decent cognitive abilities. These are the basic abilities such as: how we learn, problem-solve, pay attention, and retain knowledge. Without these fundamental abilities, a child cannot grow mentally no matter how hard they try. More investigation must be done for children in poverty because we just do not have enough information to be generalizing that “less fortunate children” are this or” poor children cannot do this”. There must be a larger information pool- a worldwide information pool- so that we can look at poverty on a precise global scale so that we can address this problem. I believe that changes should be made in the way this issue is studied because researchers focus too much on the children’s “environmental stressors” or “their daily living habits”, but they tend to not hone into the children themselves. The potential impact of future studies with this issue can be ground-breaking because if we can find a solution to poverty- especially poverty for children- then every country on the Earth can then start to have boosted economies and lower unemployment rates. Children and poverty cannot relate. Not now. Not ever.

Categories: Lifestyle


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