Children are the most defenseless victims of poverty within a society. Poverty has a number of causes, but it’s effect on children is the perpetuation of what is known as a vicious cycle of poverty where kids of a certain economically disadvantages lineage go on to have few opportunities as adults. Research has shown that their children get caught in the same poverty trap and the causes of poverty then go on to have the effect of producing more impoverished children. From a long view, one of these effects is that a society becomes disadvantaged because it has a portion of its population living in poverty. The conditions of poverty lead to poor children; these become poor adults who have children who are in child poverty situations.
Camila Batmanghelidj has research the various effects that child poverty inflicts upon family. Her essay on the subject connects various research to chow that generational poverty leads to “ health difficulties, educational failure, mental health challenges, and impoverished aspirations” (Batmanghelidj, n. p.). She shows how this creation a portion of society without hope for a better future. People living without hope are not only not productive, but they are more likely to engage in reckless behavior. They do not worry about long-term consequences because they do not believe that the future holds anything worthwhile for them. (Batmanghelidj, n. p.). She has a term for this. She calls it “ Impoverished aspirations.” Poor children end up with poorer opportunities that cut off their ability to aspire and work towards those dreams. Their aspirations become “ impoverished aspirations” and are not based on their innate potential, but their potential in the world given their economic situation.
Poverty is a societal problem, and it is one that has existed every since humans began forming themselves into societies. Even before the existence of societies, the conditions in which human beings lived, by modern standards, would be considered poverty. Poverty does have some hallmark causes, but in every society, the existence of poverty is “ complicated” and “ unique” (Payne, 78). “ There is no single origin of [poverty]” (Payne, 78). Regardless of the different causes of it, the outcomes are the same across cultures, and the negative of the effects from those causes are similar. Globally the effects can be seen in statistics like the ones listed by Nicholas Kristoff in his book Half The Sky which reports that every thirty seconds a child living in child poverty something from which a cure exists, but is not affordable by the family of the child. Death by curable diseases or starvation is one of the sadly common effects caused by child poverty (Kristoff, 46).
Batmanghelidj tells the story of a child named Andrew living in poverty. She relates to her readers how much of his time is spent preoccupied with concerns that a seven-year-old boy should not have to think about. Because he worries about his mother’s finances, he passes much of his day walking carefully so that his worn shoes do not get wet or fall apart. His shoes have holes in them, so if his shoes get wet, his feet will get wet. As a seven-year-old boy, he does not want his classmates to make fun of him. Because his shoes are so old, he knows his shoes will smell if they get wet, and in the past students have made fun of him for this. Andrew does not tell his family about his obsession with his shoes. He is afraid that if he does he will be contributing to more financial hardship for his family. Studying Andrew, the reporter concluded that he spent more time in his day worrying about his shoes than worrying about anything else. This fits the definition of an obsession. But this obsession is not the result of a normal circumstance but is caused by the poverty of Andrew’s family. There are real consequences to carrying around an obsession like this. The researchers writes that the boys “ preoccupation with lack of appropriate clothing could be potentially comparable to losing a night’s sleep, or the difference between the performance capacities of an alcoholic versus a normal adult” (Batmanghelidj, n. p.). Poverty does not just have long-term consequences. The preoccupation of poverty in the present has harmful affects on poor people and children’s life because, ““ Poverty saps mental facility to deal with complex tasks” (Jha, 1). One studied found that being worried about financial problems resulted in losing the equivalent of thirteen points on an IQ test (Jha, 1).
Batmanghelidj thinks that the proper sociological lens to view Andrew’s condition is one that conflict theory This perspective “ emphasizes the role of coercion and power in producing social order” (Crossman, n. p.). One could look at Andrew’s mother for the answers to what caused their poverty, but for issues like this it is important to see the causes from a macro perspective. Poverty is a cycle. It is one that has political and social origins. The economic system of the country also plays into the issue. Seen from the lens of the market, poverty exists because the vast majority of resources of the planet are in the hands of a few rich people who control these resources.
What all the research points to is that poverty is a cycle that requires (most of the time) intervention to stop. There are numerous educational disadvantages for poor children. Research has shown that the educational disadvantages far outweigh any genetic predisposition to intelligence. ” (Jha, 1). The causation, Batmanhelidjh believes, is often ignored. She things that people would rather explain it by looking for causes within the individual instead of the society. This makes sense, since people born into abundance like to think it is something intrinsically about themselves that led them to wealth and not simply luck.
Part of the problem is that under the capitalistic system, an ongoing effect is ups and downs. It is a cutthroat market system where the strong thrive and the weak sink into poverty. This is not the only position on our market system. Some people see capitalism as a something that could eventually cause an end to poverty. One writer on the issue thinks ” Economists believe that [our capitalistic society] has played a big role in spurring economic growth and reducing poverty in recent decades” (Yunus, XVIII).
One thinks that capitalism does can destroy all kinds of poverty if it continues to increase the efficiency across how wealth is produced. However, this idealistic view has not shown itself to play out yet in the real world. One of the reasons poverty is a trap because even when the economy is soaring, it disproportionately helps the middle and upper classes. One must have a view of the macro view of poverty in order to fully understand the causes and effects of it. But, for those who want to change the course of poverty, they will not be able to change the political, economic and social systems that feed into poverty. For those wanted to break the casual cycle of poverty, it is important to see what can be done on the individual micro level.
There are almost limitless ways to view the problem and as many solutions. By identifying what poverty takes away will allow people to know what they need to offer to break the cycle of poverty. Jose Antonio started Venezuela a youth orchestra with the intention of providing through it the social and educational resources that those living in poor conditions lacked in his country. From his introduction to his TED talk, his plan has “ transformed thousands of kids’ lives in Venezuela.” He believes that kids need something to teach them discipline and a thirst for education. These are the very same resources that Ruby Payne identified as lacking in child poverty situations.
As a societal phenomenon, people in generational poverty are often referred to as being in a “ poverty trap.” This is because the causes that create poverty lead to effects that in term become causes of more poverty. People working against poverty ask the important question as to what would cause a different outcome. What is required to change the dynamics to the point that has the cause of breaking people out of poverty traps?
“ The 2010 State of the World” is a compilation of essays which circle this question. Muhammad Yunus, whose research led to the now famous Garmeen microfinance bank believes that one does not need to do massive things to cause substantially different effects. He believes that a small amount of money directed the right way could break children out of poverty traps. He believes that a long-term education is essential, but in order to achieve that things must be done to remedy the condition of the present. (Yunus, vii).
Gavin Kelly, a writer for the Guardian thinks “ low pay is not simply a rite of passage that young people go through, the odds of escaping are truly grim.”,, He believes that current minimum wages are part of the casual problem of poverty. His data demonstrates that a person who begins working at low wages at the start of his or her career will likely continue to work for low wages for the duration of his or her career.
What all this research is shown is that there is a variety of causes to poverty. To oversimplify the matter, child poverty is caused by adult poverty. Since children grow up to become adults who have their children, this becomes a vicious cycle that repeats itself. There are real consequences for a society with populations of poor people. Poverty is an effect of various causes, but it is also a cause of many of society’s woes. This is why it is an important political issue that is a central focus for many activists in the twenty-first century.
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Batmanghelidjh, Camila. ” Living in poverty exerts a high cognitive toll on families.” theguardian. com. Guardian News and Media, 30 Aug. 2013. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.
Jha, Alok. ” Poverty saps mental capacity to deal with complex tasks, say scientists.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 30 Aug. 2013. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.
Kelly, Gavin. ” The price we pay for poverty wages is too high.” theguardian. com. Guardian News and Media, 27 Nov. 2013. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.
Kristoff, Nicholas. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.
Payne, Ruby K., Ph. D. A Framework for Understanding Poverty workbook. Third edition, 2008; 78 pp. Bibliography p. 78.