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Most of us have all heard the statement “pull yourself up by your bootstraps”. It means to get yourself out of a situation or take personal responsibility to change your situation. But, how can someone, especially a child, pull herself or himself up by their bootstraps if they don’t have any boots? A silent epidemic in America plagues every state. Yet, no one talks about it. Poverty is not just something that we see happening in distant countries. How many children do you think are living in poverty today? According to the National Center for Children in poverty, there are over 15 million children living in poverty in America. Childhood poverty is neither inevitable nor immune to efforts to address it. This is something that can be eliminated if we as a society really decided to do so. I hope that the candor of my speech relays just how important it is for all of us to take poverty seriously. Webster’s dictionary defines poverty as “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions”. Child poverty is the condition of a child being in a situation where their living below the federal poverty line.
Poverty not only affects adults but also has negative consequences for children too. The American Psychological Association states that “psychological research has demonstrated that living in poverty has a wide range of negative effects on the physical and mental health and well-being of our nation’s children. Poverty impacts children within their various contexts at home, in school, and in their neighborhoods and communities.” The despondency experienced by children living poverty goes beyond not having money but also leads to poor health.
A child’s experience of poverty puts them at a disadvantage in more areas than just financial. Children living in poor areas are at risk of being stuck in a continual cycle of adulthood poverty. The antecedent for adult poverty is often having grown up in poverty as a child. The Children’s Defense Fund, a national child advocacy organization, states that “Child poverty fuels an intergenerational cycle of poverty. The compound effects of child poverty can have lasting consequences into adulthood.” America’s children and children all over the world deserve better than what society is doing for them.
Poverty is putting many children at risk the minute they begin their lives. In the September 26th web issue of The Economist, it was noted that “Child poverty often leads to adult poverty and all of its problems: psychological distress, exposure to crime and lost productivity.” No child should have to worry about where their next meal comes from or deal with the struggles of not having enough of the basic things that many take for granted.”
In conclusion, childhood poverty can be hard cycle to break and can be experienced throughout family generations. Poverty is damaging to a child’s mental, physical, emotional and spiritual development. We need to work to expand our understanding of poverty and realize the negative consequences that it can have not only on the adults but the children as well. Poverty is more than just low household income or lack of an income. That is important but child poverty needs to be differentiated from general poverty if we are to truly help our children move beyond the effects of poverty. Children experience poverty with their whole self – mind, body, and hearts. Ending the cycle of poverty begins with each and every one of us making a conscious effort to invest in the well-being of our society through working for the betterment of the children.
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