The impact of the cycle of poverty on children

“Poverty is not made by God, it is created by you and me when we don’t share what we have” (Mother Teresa). Mother Teresa fought poverty as an evil and lived it as a virtue. Her life was a long and moving illustration of the relationship between Christianity and poverty. She fought against poverty, going out into filthy streets to serve the destitute, but also embraced it in her own life giving up all material goods and physical comfort. There are three different types of poverty such as material poverty, spiritual poverty, and the virtue of poverty. The impact of the cycle of poverty weighs heavy on children, and this issue can be fixed. The root cause, legal contribution, education system, and social stereotypes all contribute to the problem of kids being in poverty.

About fifteen million children in the United States live in families with low incomes below the federal poverty threshold. These children have a great amount of behavioral issues. Most teens have a greater risk for several negative outcomes such as poor academic achievement, school dropout, abuse and neglect, behavioral and socioemotional problems, and developmental delays. In general, poverty is linked with negative conditions such as substandard housing, homelessness, inadequate nutrition and food insecurity, inadequate child care, lack of access to health care, unsafe neighborhoods, and under resourced schools which adversely impact our nation’s children. Chronic stress associated with living in poverty have been shown to adversely affect children’s concentration and memory which may impact their ability to learn. Although there are many situations that could happen, what is the underlying cause of these scenarios?

There are several definitions of poverty, but to sum all of them up, poverty is a process in which families do not receive enough income to provide the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. Some causes of poverty could simply be because of job loss, a fight with an abusive partner, rent increase, a decrease in social security income, or the result of untreated mental illness. Most children are just born into a family already in poverty which puts them at a disadvantage because that’s the only way they live growing up. Not every family goes through a traumatic situation for being in poverty. Most parents are single parents trying to provide for their children which is not always enough. However, it is not always the family’s fault. Social and legal influences can contribute to the problem of poverty as well.

Many families become impoverished due to social and legal influences. The economic definition of poverty is typically based on income measures, with the absolute poverty line calculated as the food expenditure necessary to meet dietary recommendations, supplemented by a small allowance for nonfood goods. The federal poverty threshold is an estimate of the minimum income needed for an individual or family to avoid serious material hardship. However, poverty policies in the United States are based on social selection. Poverty and welfare policies directed to adults are intended to increase individuals’ employment through improving skills, motivation and effort. This system is designed to reduce the dependence on the welfare system and to promote marriage and financial responsibility for children. Another social influence directed toward poverty is the weak economy. Weak economies in America have caused an increase in unemployment. Companies have been forced to cut jobs or even close their doors for business. This economic pressure has caused depression and marital conflicts. The government should do a better job supporting families that are trying to do the right act to support their families.

Another major cause of poverty is due to the lack of education. Children raised in a low-income family are at risk for academic and social problems as well as poor health and well-being. Poorly educated families wind up with poor decision-making skills. These families with poor decision-making skills may struggle with protecting their children from the effects of poverty because they are unable to tell their children what to say in certain situations. Families who are better educated sometime end up with rational decision-making skills. This could lead to parents protecting their children in a safe and calm manner. Many people from the lower class simply cannot afford to attend college and earn a degree. Most jobs require some kind of degree or education. The only jobs that are available without having to be licensed are low paying jobs with little to no benefits. This is when they will have to support a family on a low salary.

“Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings” (Nelson Mandela). Every child deserves to be loved and embraced. Every child deserves the world. They deserve to be given the right education. They deserve to be fed and sheltered. Every child deserves respect and the ability to participate and to share in God’s creation. Scripture states, “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward them for what they have done” (Proverbs 19:17). As people of Christ, we are called to serve others in our community. We are called to serve the poor and the needy. We are the only ones who can change this issue with kids in poverty. God loves all of his children and wants the best for all of us. That is why I was called to serve in June 2015, downtown at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I had the gracious opportunity to work with the kids in poverty at the St. Agnes kids in poverty summer camp. After my first summer, I decided to come back every summer for the next three years. This camp truly changed me as a person because it showed me how grateful I was as a young adult. The camp was split up into four sections: young boys, older boys, young girls and older girls. I was placed with the younger boys. They were violent. All they wanted to do was fight with each other. This was an eye-opening experience for me. I learned that all the kids wanted to be loved by one person. I was that person for them. I loved and comforted every little boy that allowed me to do so. We can make a difference in this world by showing them that we care.

I, Shore Fleury, was honored to interview Jacob Allen Nichols. Jacob Nichols is a proud founder of Live2Serve. This program is a full time non-profit organization. Live2Serve’s main goal is to make the city of Baton Rouge and our world a better place. It addresses many problems in our city, specifically child poverty, by allowing students in the Baton Rouge area serve to the impoverished. “We bring the message of God’s love to our city through bible studies and gospel outreaches.” During this interview with Jacob, I had the opportunity to ask Jacob some main questions about impoverished kids and here were his answers: The root cause of children being born into poverty is because their parents were born and raised in poverty. Children see one tunnel their entire life, so most of them are born, and they also die in poverty. Most children are poor, but most of them do not realize that they are poor. This cycle is also bought up by society and social issues. A social influence that contributes to the problem of poverty is race and classes. Most children in poverty are African American. Because most families that are in poverty are black, outsiders do not give kids a chance to socialize with others. A legal influence that contributes to the problem of poverty is the welfare system. The welfare system hanged a great deal. However, it rewards more lazy people, but if a single woman works, they are given extra help from the government. Education is one of the more negative effects on children in poverty. Parents are not able to pay for private school so they end up going to public schools. Money is the limitation on getting a good education. Children in this cycle of poverty do not go to school with the best physical appearance. Most kids drop out or get kicked out of school at a young age due to money or being violent with other students. Social stereotypes and ignorance make the cycle of poverty worse. Ignorance I the worst cause of poverty. These kids are stereotyped because of their race and others are stereotyped because of their social class. However, we can make a difference to help these kids. Individuals should volunteer, give service to others, and help in any way they can. Small acts go a long way. The Church is a way to get through tough times. Most churches give back to the community by holding a shelter, giving good, and prayer. Society should be less prejudice toward families in poverty. The government should change the welfare system, so that hard working parents, should receive more money to provide for their families. Parents that are together and working through a tough time should get more income. An individual can change and make a difference to those children that are in poverty.

“Child poverty is a persistent problem in the world, particularly in the United States, even though we have a standard of material wellbeing that is unprecedented in history. Poverty is typically defined as a lack of income or material resources, but social exclusion represents a different lens that leads to a broader range of policy solutions.” Although, the root cause, legal contribution, education system, and social stereotypes all contribute to the problem of kids being in poverty, we are called as individuals to help this issue. Love for the poor is incompatible with immoderate love of riches or their selfish use. We should love the poor with all our heart and be able to help with no questions asked. We can provide for children and families living in poverty. We can make a difference.

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