Poverty and Children in the United States
University of Phoenix
January 24, 2009
Poverty and Children in the United States
The United States is known as the richest country in the world. When poverty is mentioned most people think about third world countries and the commercials on T.V advertising for sponsors. Most people do not first think of people in our very own country. Everyone has come across someone in the United States suffering from hunger, homelessness and other forms of poverty, but few people may have realized it. Poverty in the United States is quite different from the images often seen on television in other developing countries (Cole, 2005). The face of poverty in the United States can be considered a child who is not properly nourished because his or her parents cannot afford to buy the necessary food items in order to keep them healthy. The face of poverty in the United States may represent a single parent who works full-time, but still cannot afford to pay for food, shelter, clothing or even a car. Although the United States is the wealthiest nation, poverty is still an issue (Freeman, 2005).
Child poverty is an alarming problem in the United States that affects every person in this country, regardless of economic status, age, race, or gender. In 2001, 11.7 million children, or 16.3% of children in the United States were poor (Freeman, 2005). Children represent a disproportionate percentage of the poor population. They make up 35.7 percent of the poor, but only account for 25.6 percent of the general population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006).
As with all classes there is certain criterion you must meet in order to be in any certain class. A poverty class is when there is not enough wages or income to meet the basic needs of any living being. Basic needs would be things like food, shelter, and clothes. A child in a family in poverty would also be missing a basic need of children which would be the emotional support of their parents, which would be hard to get since their parents will have to working or looking for jobs a majority of the time.
About half of families that are poor live in low-income neighborhoods (Frank 2006). Many children are struggling to survive in all different types of communities in the United States. In the lower class neighborhoods lack of public resources, economic investment and political power sometimes service to isolate some families from mainstream society. Families are isolated due to crime and violence in low-income neighborhoods. Children who live in poverty may not be able to go to a safe place to stay out of trouble like some of the more fortunate children. Children who live in the lower class neighborhoods are less likely to participate in sports and after school activities or any type of extracurricular activities and are most likely to be involved in criminal mischief. Many children tend to shy away from others because they feel embarrassed about themselves and their situation. The impact of poverty makes it almost impossible for children to grow up in a safe environment. These children are caught in the middle. Some may tend to turn to a life of crime, in hopes of getting a chance to better their living situation (Summers, 2005).
It is hard for a family in poverty to have a choice of what neighborhood they want to live in or what type or school their children will go to, or what their children will be exposed to. Their resources are limited and they basically have to take what is given to them. Some families do not have a choice about healthcare, which means some children may not get the proper healthcare they need (Summers, 2005).
The U.S. measures poverty by a standard developed more than 50 years ago, when data indicated that families spent about one-third of their income on food. The official poverty level was set by multiplying food costs by three. Since then the same figure has been updated annually for inflation but has otherwise remained unchanged. The federal poverty level is adjusted by family size but is the same across the continental United States (Summers, 2005).
The United States Census bureau uses money income to compute poverty status. This is computed before taxes and excludes capital gains and losses. Each person is then assigned one out of the 48 possible poverty thresholds which are the statistical version of the poverty measure and are issued by the Census Bureau. They are used for calculating the number of people in poverty in the United States. Unlike single adults, who are defined as poor when their income falls below a certain level, those individuals under 18, are poor when their families are poor. The Census Bureau maintains the official U.S. definition of poverty: a family is poor when their money income falls below an established threshold. Poverty thresholds are updated yearly and different thresholds apply depending on the total family size and number of children. If the total family income is less than the threshold appropriate for that family, the family is in poverty. If the total family income equals or is greater than the threshold, the family is not in poverty (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006).
The poverty class of America continues to grow on a daily basis. Even thought there are government assistance programs it is often not enough to bring the families out of poverty. Communities all over the world need to help to make a difference in a child??™s life, and it needs to be one from their own country. The government should not have to be responsible for the livelihood of the children in the United States. The government should help the family in general, but at the same time there are many people in this world that could afford to help the poverty class, but they usually don??™t.
There are many ways people can take control and help prevent poverty in the United States. By taking notice of the children in local communities and neighborhoods and staying committed to helping they can make all the difference in their lives. Having a stranger want to help them because they care says so much to a child who does not have much. Having a stranger not criticizes them about what they have and do not have may create a memory that will follow them throughout their lives. Taking the initiative to step forward and help out the public agencies and other organizations in local neighborhoods can be a start. Cleaning up the neighborhood while involving everyone from the elderly to the teens may not seem like much, but it will to that little one who sees an effort being made (Freeman, 2005).
America is known for helping other countries, but there are children and families who are in need right here at home. There must be something that can be done to prevent the hunger, the homelessness, the wondering of whether or not they will be able to go another day at school without being criticized. Americans must work today and come up with a solution that will work for everyone. Let??™s take the time to look at the situation that is going on at home first before we spend so much attention on other countries that are not as caring about the United States. We must remember the children are our future, and a helping hand begins with the United States.
Whether dealing with poverty in the form of food, clothing, shelter, education, or low income. One does not have to travel internationally to hear the cries of poverty for it is right here in America. The cries are loud and clear and begging for acknowledgement (Cole, 2005). Even though poverty cannot be fixed overnight, a dedication and commitment needs to be made now.
Every person in the United States has the human right to healthcare, and a safe and comfortable livelihood and the freedom to not live in poverty. A child should have the freedom to run and play and not have to worry where they will sleep, eat, or if they will have anything to eat. A child should not have to worry about whether or not they will get teased if they go to school with worn out shoes and clothing, or do not have the proper school supplies. America, the children of today are the future of tomorrow. The time has come to stop and look at them and do something about their livelihood of poverty. Take a stand and join the government agencies to make the assistance better. Many say that government assistance is not enough, but no one seems to be doing anything about it.
A stand has to be taken now before it is too late. Children in the United States are looking to those who are more fortunate to help them know what it is to be an American. People complain everyday about how changes need to occur, well now is the time to make those changes happen. It is easy to go and complain about the government to friends and family. Let??™s try an experiment, next time, instead of complaining to friends and family, let??™s ask for help from friends and family. Let??™s ask for assistance in lending a hand in the community to clean up the neighborhoods, make sure the parks are clean for children to play and making sure that neighbor who hardly comes out has enough food to feed their child. Let??™s be kind to one another as it was intended, and watch the face of poverty change forever.
Cole, H (2005). Poverty in the United States. Retrieved April 9, 2008, Web site: http://www.results.org/website/article.aspid=350
Frank, L (2006). Child Poverty in America. Retrieved April 12, 2008, Web site: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-53408461.html
Freeman, W (2005). Children in America. Retrieved April 11, 2008, Web site: http://www.futureofchildren.org/usr_doc/vol7no2ART1.pdf
Summers, T (2005). Poverty and Children in the United States. Retrieved April 11, 2008, Web site: http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/placeatthetable/uspoverty.shtml
United Census Bureau, (2006). Poverty. Retrieved April 12, 2008, Web site: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/poverty.html