Sample Critical Thinking On The Problem Of Child Poverty In The United States.

Type of paper: Critical Thinking

Topic: Family, Children, Poverty, Social Issues, Poor, United States, Parents, Health

Pages: 10

Words: 2750

Published: 2020/12/12


Poverty is a real lack of funds or resources and this definition has a negative connotation; most governments are trying to completely disguise and as a rule do not seek to discuss this term (especially authoritarian regimes long stay in power). Moreover, the approaches to poverty, are ranked in the spectrum of human rights and universal set of benefits to charity and social assistance. Some of the poverty approaches are blamed for the fact they do more harm than good because they entail residual approach to the social protection and strengthen social exclusion, focusing exclusively on a narrow segment of society.
Child poverty is the social phenomenon. It is affect on the economy, social relations, politics, culture; directly influences the basic characteristics of a person's life as health and education. Therefore, it is important to understand what constitutes child poverty in the recent decades, what will happen to it in the near future. Will the scale of it change (where and how?). Discussion of these issues will form the basis of this paper.
The definition of poverty. Defining the problem sets the path of its decision; the concept defines the action just as the gun barrel projects the bullet`s direction towards the goal; e.g. in the policy process the concept development performs an important role, as it sets the algorithm of the collection and / or analysis of the evidence and the way in which the political actions, public discussions, outreach and monitoring will be carried out (Alesina, Glaeser, 2015).
Child poverty. Over the last four decades of the XX century, the US government has repeatedly appealed to the problem of poverty inside the country in general and also a child poverty in particular. War on Poverty was declared in the 60s. The decline of poor people proportion was recorded in the early 70s, after which the significant progress in poverty reduction was not observed. The task of putting an end to poverty has not only been resolved, but poverty, especially of children, had been grown inside the country. Taking the whole population, the proportion of Americans living below the poverty line, from 1967 to the 90s ranged from 11% in 1972 to 13-15% in the 90s of XX century. The absolute number of poor people in the United States determined in 1970 to 25.4 people. In the 80s and 90s, this number almost steadily increased, reached 39.3 million in 1993. Then slightly fell to 35.6 million people in 1997. In the general problem of poverty, the child poverty is particularly acute. As there a lot of foundations must be laid in childhood (knowledge, skills, capabilities, health) needed in adult life. Poor children receive poor nutrition, lack of medical care, limited education, and it has a detrimental effect on their later life. Child poverty in the United States influences socio-economic process, because children suffer of poverty more than other social groups, and poverty in childhood often progresses into adulthood (Huston, 1991).
Categories of families and causes of child poverty. What type of households includes children living in poverty? Firstly, poor children are those who live in families with annual incomes below 40% of median household income in the country. Secondly, children living in poverty are prevalent in single-parent families. Most single parents are persons who either have never been married - 37%, or divorced - 39%. The other parents of poor children either live separately, or are widowed. The number of single parents with children under the age of 18 has been growing steadily: from 1970 to 1996, their number has tripled from 3.8 million to 11.7 million people. Single parents in the vast majority are mothers (85-90% of all single parents with children). Absence of the father is an important factor of material disadvantage. In families with a single mother, according to official figures, about half of the children living in poverty, according to the calculations of researchers and even more - 55%. How important is the presence of two parents of children is proved by the fact: among children who live with two parents, only 10% of children are poor. A third factor influencing the financial situation of children is a skin color, ethnic origin. Children who live in poverty are prevalently from families of blacks and Hispanics. It makes up about 37% of all children under the age of 18 years, in the families of white parents - only 16%.
Education is also one of the factors that determines the financial situation of the children. About 40% of families live in poverty, if the head of the family did not graduate from high school; and if the head of the family graduated from college, the proportion of children belonging to poor people is only 3%. Where there is only one parent, the proportion of poor children in black and Hispanic is half times higher than that of whites. The high proportion of American children in poverty has socio-demographic and economic reasons. Demographic shifts, according to some American researchers, have had a paramount influence on the situation in the field of child poverty. In recent decades, there was an increase of the proportion of children who live with one parent, mainly the mother. This was the result of, firstly, the increased divorce rate and the decline in popularity the institution of marriage, and, secondly, the result of widespread illegitimate births.
In recent decades, the US divorce rate ranks the first place among the developed countries of the West, superior to them in terms of two or more times. However, in the 90s divorces fell slightly, reaching in 1997 - 4.3 ppm, but it remains above the level of 1970 - 3.5 ppm. The cause of weakness and unpopularity of marriage is studied by experts who are looking for various spheres of social life. Since the mid-60s and later there was an involvement of women, especially married women, in social production, they demanded increase of their economic independence, increase of requirements for a marriage partner. All this contributed to the strengthening of marriage and family formation. The seventies of XX century were noted in the demographic history of the United States as "The Divorce Boom". The Vietnam War strengthened the process of divorce; the difficult period of restoration of family life came after this war. As a result, the percentage of divorces increased. At the turn of 70s-80s the divorce processes in the United States have broken all records, reaching 5.3 ppm. Rate of marriages began to fall along with the "epidemic of divorce"; and demographic history of the 90s marked the collapse of marriages, people stopped the marriage processes (Koch, 2015).
The high level of children who live in poverty is linked to a certain extent with immigration, including illegal. Qualification and educational structure of many immigrants (primarily refers to immigrants from Mexico) is low. Mostly they are used in low-paying occupations that do not attract Americans. Children of immigrants swell the ranks of those who live in poverty. A number of attempts to limit the migration of low-skilled labor has been made in the United States for several times, but they were not very successful; however, the fact that the US economy is in need of low-wage labor, is the reason why and the authorities sometimes turn a blind eye to illegal immigrants. Poverty has forced many American children to work, although they are rarely able to find a suitable job because of the low level of education and lack of skills. Nevertheless, the proportion of working children aged 15-18 years in the early 90s was nearly 40%, of which one in ten worked full time throughout the year.
Health care of children. One negative consequence of the poverty of American children is the absence of health insurance that entitles them to free treatment. The fact is that factor of having health insurance is dependent on the presence of this insurance of their parent or guardians. Poor children are left without health insurance twice as likely as the non-poor. In 1997, 22% (1991 - 20.5%, in 1994 - 22.7%) of American children under 18 living in poverty were not for this reason did not have the right to free health care. At the same time, children that are not attributable to the poor were deprived of health insurance, only 11% of children, that is half the size. Lack of health insurance at a half million of children living in poverty does not allow time to take action to cure many diseases. Among them is a serious problem of pediatric asthma. 5 million of children are sick with this kind of disease. They are mostly of a poor Afro-Asian and Hispanic origin. Poverty is a major factor in asthma disease. Most sick children live in central neighborhoods of large cities, where there are crowded living conditions, and the air is saturated with exhaust fumes.
Poor people often use gas stoves to heat homes. This is one of the factors of asthma, especially in damp homes in flood-prone areas. Only for late 14 years (from 1980 to 1994) the incidence of children with asthma in the United States increased by 160%. Asthma is treatable, but medications are very expensive. It is difficult to create the conditions for patients in crowded public housing.
Even the existence of insurance does not guarantee a proper treatment. As a result of asthma in the United States each year die about 1,000 children, and they are children from poor families. "A child with asthma indicates a failure of our system," was admitted in a hearing of the US Congress. 16 million children suffer from diabetes in the United States. The disease often leads to retardation and is the third leading cause of death of children living in poverty (the national average infant mortality from diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death). A fairly common disease of American children from poor families is mental disease, manifested in deviant behavior, attention deficit, hyperactivity, depression, mental retardation. One of the reasons is a lack of protein in the diet. A skilled care for such children, as a rule, is not provided due to lack of health insurance. Millions of American children are not able to be treated by a dentist. They have to miss lessons suffering a toothache, and can lose teeth at a young age. According to official statistics, only one in five children who are entitled to dental care for Medicaid can really use the services of a dentist. In 1999, the US House of Representatives has devoted a special hearing on the issue of health insurance of children from low-income families by offering a number of measures to improve the system. One of the widely discussed issues in relation to families and children in the United States is caring for preschool children during the day, as well as for younger students after school. Kindergartens in the United States received a limited development. The forms of organized care are very expensive and are almost inaccessible for children from poor families. The average cost of care costs more than four thousand dollars per year, and it costs about 8 thousand dollars in institutions of good quality. This service costs 10 thousand dollars and above in such large cities as New York. Families with children living in poverty may be granted a tax relief or low tariffs to pay for child care centers organized day stay. However, this kind of assistance can apply only teenage mothers or parents-students. "The needs in child care for low-income families in recent years has increased to a great extent, but federal policy has done nothing to address these needs, although studies on this subject have been many. The construction of new centers for the care of children is not growing, and the need for them is increasing, especially in areas inhabited by the poor "- that characterized the situation in the hearing of a committee of the US Senate. According to various sources, from 10 to 25% of children living in poverty attend preschool institutions. American authors suggest a low percent as 80-85% of all care centers for children, a large queue for the device a child in that center. About half of the institutions are in need of repair; they are in such poor condition that poses a threat to the safety and health of children.
Staff of the preschools refers to low-paid categories of workers, and therefore the quality of child care is low too. In general, care workers pay little attention to the mental development of a child. More than 60% of children from poor families are under the supervision of relatives: grandparents, and others. The care of these children who belong to this kind of families is especially important role.
The children living in poverty are often left at home by their parents or are left only without a father. This happens internally due to lack of work from his father. Great difficulties arise with students after the end of lessons: from 15 to 20 hours, when they are left to themselves. This time has a maximum percentage of crime among adolescents from poor families. Over the past thirty-odd years, the United States has a federal program called "Head Start" to care for preschool children living below the poverty line. It aims to prepare children from the poorest families to the school, 90% of children are covered by her age 3-4 years. In this case, 36% are Black, 26% - Hispanic and 31% are children of white Americans. The program includes food and medical care preschoolers. "Head Start" operates in every state, but is deployed insufficient and covers only 1/5 of all children who have a right for it. "A need of child care centers for low-income families in recent years has increased dramatically," - the US Congress noted in one of the official publications. "However, the federal government has done nothing to increase the number of centers." "The new child care is especially needed in the areas inhabited by the poor." The situation that is regarded about the care of children from poor families, and about the creation of new centers and the expansion of old has been discussed in the committees of the US Congress, including considering a bill on the intellectual development of children (Children's development commission act of 1998), but tangible results are still not given. The swept addiction the family of poor Americans has increased in recent years. From 1 to 2% of children born in the US are already exposed to cocaine in their mothers’ wombs. The proportion of such infants is between 10 and 20% in the poor neighborhoods of large cities. A significant number of children (30 to 50%) requires a special care and isolation from their drug addicted mothers. Despite the large number of people wishing to adopt a child, adoptive parents, as a rule, do not take children who were exposed to cocaine in the womb, as there can appear a predisposition to addiction after a time.
Solutions to the problems of child poverty. In the US, there is no system of benefits to families with children in the way, as it is in case of the European Union, where the system of family allowances spreads on all children. In the US, the issue of social assistance is given to families with children whose income is below the poverty line, and assistance is provided only after means-tested. There are several programs of assistance to the poor. Despite the fact that the funding of such programs were generally increased, on the expectation of one person, the assigned means have always remained inadequate, in particular owing to inflation. "Social care has become less generous in the past decade, although it has never been particularly effective," – was admitted during an audition of the US Congress. In addition, the conditions for receiving social assistance are periodically tightened. In general, the allocation of funds for social assistance to the poor, including children, is on the field for several decades for sharp criticism, political struggles and bureaucratic red tape. An average American taxpayer is considers that the aid should be reduced, because it is a good tool for idlers who do not want to work and hope for help from the state. Social support encourages alleged refusal to work, shifting the care of family and children on the shoulders of the state, and ultimately on the American taxpayer. The first and the largest in scope of recipients Appropriations welfare program is called "Aid to Families with Dependent Children" (AFDC). The program was first developed and put into operation in 1935 under the President Franklin Roosevelt. During those times, the benefits were paid to the most needy families with children who have lost a breadwinner, exclusively from the federal budget. In the following decades, the program AFDC was extensively amended and expanded the range of recipients. Today, in addition to the allowances issued by cash, recipients are also provided with a number of free services to support and strengthen the family. The federal and state governments finance this program. A child (under 18) must live with one parent or another relative, and the family must have an income below the subsistence level established in each state for families of different sizes, in order to obtain benefits. School-age children are required to attend school or vocational school. The AFDC aid program is available to families with children in half of the states, only if there are two parents, but the main breadwinner is unemployed.


According to some social studies of American scientists, all kinds of social support provided by the United States to poor families are not enough to snatch a family of constant needs. Existing programs should be expanded by changing investment priorities, to make long-term investments, establish reimbursable tax credits to expand employment opportunities in the public sector, regularly raise the federal minimum wages. Children make up more than a quarter of our population and 100% of our future. A child is denied adequate nutrition, losing more than just nutrition. Children may lose a perspective on the future. The US government must rid the nation of hungry childhood, to proclaim such situation as unacceptable. American researchers have also proposed to reduce poverty among children by increased cash payments to needy families as the government do in Canada. Without receiving government subsidies, the proportion of children living below the poverty line in Canada higher than in the US, but with cash payments proportion of poor children in Canada is two times less than in the US (Albanese, 2015).

Works Cited

Alesina, Alberto, and Edward Glaeser. Fighting poverty in the US and Europe : a world of
difference. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. 7 Mar. 2015
Arrighi, Barbara A, and David Maume. Child poverty in America today. Westport, Conn: Praeger, 2015.
Koch, Kathy. Child poverty. Washington, D.C: CQ Press, 2015. 8 Mar. 2015
Healey, Justin. Child poverty. Thirroul, N.S.W: Spinney Press, 2015.
Huston, Aletha C. Children in poverty : child development and public policy. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1991.
Albanese, Patrizia. Child poverty in Canada. Don Mills, Ont: Oxford University Press, 2015.

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