Websters Dictionary defines poverty as The state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. Most of us are led to believe that poverty is all about money, when in reality; it’s so much more than that. People who are suffering in economic poverty may not have a place to sleep at night or know where their next meal will be coming from. Some people in poverty don’t even know how to read or write because they didn’t have access to school, something that hinders them from getting a decent job. Most people living this way often smell and look dirty, because they simply don’t have access to a shower or even clean water. Poverty isn’t just about being poor and living on the streets, and it doesn’t affect only adults, it affects millions of children worldwide.
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Having a lack of education keeps people from keeping jobs. Often children are kept at home so that they can work to bring in additional income; so many children living in poverty don’t get a lot of education, if any at all. So, when these children are older they won’t have any education, making them unable to find a good paying job, and the cycle continues with their children. The only way to break this cycle is for families living in poverty to send their children to school. Some experts say that education is a key factor for ending poverty. If children get an education and learn special skills, they are likely to get a good job. For every year that a child attends school, their salary increases by an average of 10 percent. At first it would be hard on their families to send their child to school, but in the long run it would be worth it. Also, if they learn about diseases, like HIV/AIDS, they can learn how to protect themselves from getting it. Experts also say that girls need to be encouraged to go to school in developing countries. It can be expensive to send children to school in some countries, so families tend to focus on the boys’ education while the girls stay home and learn how to cook, sew, and clean. Though the actual school is free, there are usually hidden costs. Buying uniforms and supplies can be a huge burden for families in poverty. Some children can’t go to school because they have contracted a disease of infection that makes them unable to attend classes. In some countries it is against their religion, culture, or tradition to send girls to school. Some children simply can’t get to school because it’s too far to walk to and back. Though it is hard to figure out ways to get children to go to school, it is possible.
One of the techniques being used to get kids in school is paying families to send their children to school. These types of programs are already in places like Brazil and Bangladesh. So far they have had great results because parents aren’t scared of losing money by sending their children to school. This program now involves over 8.7 million children. Another way people are trying to get children in school is by starting campaigns that will hopefully change parents’ minds about sending their children to school. The campaigns tell parents about the benefits of their daughters attending school and how important education really is. The last way we are trying to get children in school is by making it totally free. If the government provided uniforms and supplies, many more children would be able to attend school.
Diseases kill millions of people in many countries every year, which takes a toll on economic productivity, which forces families into poverty. When poor families lose a family member to a disease or infection, it makes them go even deeper into poverty, making it harder to get out of it. Twenty-six percent of total deaths result from infectious diseases because they spread so quickly, especially in unsanitary places. Not only do they spread quickly, but poor countries usually don’t have much access to medication to treat infectious diseases. The more people who are conflicted with diseases and infections, the more people die, the more money a family loses, putting them in a deeper state of poverty.
People living in poverty usually can’t receive loans and financial benefits, making it almost impossible to break out of poverty. They can’t receive loans because banks don’t trust them to pay back the money they borrowed. Slowly we are learning that we have to give poor people a chance to redeem themselves, so there have been some new advances made. One modern advance that is designed to help people in poverty is microcredit. Microcredit allows poor entrepreneurs to receive a small loan to start a small business and gradually pay the money back when they can. The loans are very small amounts, ranging from $50-$150. So far microcredit has been successful in getting people on their feet and out of poverty. At first an entrepreneur’s business would probably start out slow and small, such as a small stand selling drunks or a weaving business, but a little income is much better than no income at all.
Hunger is the result of poverty. In a developed country, people spend about ten dollars a day on food, much different than the 0.29 cent people in third world countries spend on food per day. Of the 852 million people that do not receive enough food, 241 million are malnourished. The diets of people who are malnourished do not contain enough good, or the food that they do eat doesn’t have enough calories in it. Their diets usually don’t have nearly enough fat, proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins that are needed for survival and growth. Malnutrition is often called the ‘silent killer’ because people suffering from it are often ignored. Of the 11 million children who die every year, 40 percent of those deaths are because of hunter and malnutrition. Malnutrition doesn’t just cause your stomach to growl, it can cause mental retardation, hindered growth, blindness, and other effects. However, there are ways we can alleviate hunger.
One way we can reduce hunger around the world is by distributing food to people, especially children. This is the most effective way to get rid of hunger. Food can be given from across the world or given locally. Many schools are providing lunch to students, which solves two problems at once. It gets children to go to school and they also receive nutritious food. Ever since schools have started doing this, attendance has dramatically increased. We can also help countries help themselves by allowing independent farms to sell their crops internationally. Many farmers sell their crops at very low prices because that’s the only way people will buy them, so farmers make next to nothing. If they were allowed to sell their crops internationally they could raise their prices and make a good amount of money.
High gas prices, rising cost of food, and expensive living conditions have forced millions of people into poverty, including children. In reality, one out of every five children in America lives in poverty. Living in poverty hurts children more than adults because they don’t get to grow up in a positive, uplifting environment that they need. They also don’t receive proper nutrition, this hinders their learning abilities and how they grow. Worldwide, 10.6 million children die before they reach the age of 5, that’s about 25,000 children each day. This can be due to malnourishment, starvation, or disease. Children can grow up to have learning disabilities and even mental problems. Children make up 35% of the people living in poverty, yet they only make up 25% of the United States population. This statistic shows just how many children are in poverty. Poverty rates also vary by age group: 17% are less than 18 years old, 11% are 18-64, and 9% are 65 + years old. It also varies by race, for example, 33 % of people living in poverty are African-American. The number of children in poverty also depends on geography. Children living in rural areas have a poverty rate of 18 %, compared to the poverty rate of 13% in urban areas. Rates are higher in the cities at 19% and lower in suburban areas at 10 percent. To change this, some children in third world countries are actually working…sometimes even before the age of 5 years old.
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You may not think that child labor has anything to do with poverty, but in reality, that’s what it’s all about. The only reason most childen have to labor is to bring in extra money to their thriving family, which means they have to stay home from school and work instead of go to school.The children that work as child laborers are open to exploitation and neglect. If children are in school instead of out working a job, this is much less likely to happen to them. Though child labor is extremely wrong, we can’t just put an end to it abruptly because it will do more harm than good. If a family can’t make their child work they might make them do something much worse and much more dangerous to earn money, like prostitution. Instead of abruptly stopping child labor and making the situation worse, a phase out is recommended. About 158 million children aged 5-14 are estimated to be involved in child labor, which is every one in six children.
Children who grow up in poverty usually go through a wide range of problems and developmental issues. Studies have shown that there is a connection between poverty and children’s health, cognitive development, behavior problems, emotional well being, and problems succeeding in school. Some health problems are low birth weight, children from poor families are 1.7 times more likely to be born that way. Also, children who live in poverty are two times more likely to repeat a grade and two times more likely to drop out of school altogether. When children drop out of school they are just increasing their already huge chance of growing up to live in poverty as well. Children living in poverty also experience problems with defiance, recklessness, and difficulty getting along with their peers. Another common problem is that teenagers living in poverty tend to get pregnant out of wedlock and can’t care for the baby, something less common among families who are above the poverty line. Teen parents, or any parents living in poverty, can’t give their child a healthy place to grow and develop self-esteem, something extremely important during childhood. Living in a poor family would probably mean living in a poor neighborhood, a neighborhood susceptible to violence and less social support from family members. There aren’t just mental effects on children though, there are also physical ones.
Children living in poverty may experience and die from measles, malaria, and diarrhea. These are the top three killers of children in poverty, yet all three are treatable or preventable. Over 30 million children are not immunized against treatable and preventable diseases simply because they can’t afford it. More than 14 million orphaned children are the result of HIV/AIDS, a preventable disease. Most of the people who have this disease don’t even know it, so they don’t change their lifestyle to protect themselves and others. Instead, they continue on with their daily lives all the while spreading this deadly disease. You may ask, so why don’t they just get tested and get the medication they need? The answer is simple. Most people with HIV/AIDS can’t afford to get tested, much less afford all the medication needed. As a result of their poverty, the disease gets spread to millions of children, and they spread it to their children, and the cycle never stops. Another cycle that never stops in the world of poverty is hunger. Six million children under the age of five die each year of hunger. Simply hunger. Can you imagine being so hungry that you literally die? Everyday children die that way. A life wasted, just because he couldn’t get enough food. So why don’t we just give them food? There’s surely enough food in the world to feed everyone. This is a true statement, and the fact is, it’s all about education. If farmers in Africa, for example, were taught how to grow crops there would be a significant change because that farmer would be able to feed his family, his neighbors, and his village.
It has been shown in studies that children who have grown up in poverty do worse in school than their peers in middle class. Typically, children in poverty don’t have health care, nutritious food, and educational resources at home. These must be the only reasons why they make worse grades in school, right? Wrong. In addition to all those problems, the child is under extreme stress at home. It isn’t easy having to fight for your next meal and seeing your parents argue over money every day. Over time this extreme stress takes a toll on a child’s brain. Studies have shown that it can cause the brain to literally wear down, and even worse, if negatively affects the genes that are passed down to their children.
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