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Poverty and Children in the United States

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Poverty and Children in the United States

Poverty and children in the United States

Poverty by definition means: “State of being poor. The state of not having enough money to take care of basic needs such as food, clothing, and housing.” (Encarta dictionary) That is a word that many of us ignore, yet poverty among children in the United States is problem that is not going to solve itself. People today are not concerned with the troubles of others like they were in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Communities back then looked out for each other. When one family was lacking the community pulled together to ensure the family had what they needed. Today communities are not that way. People only look out for their own well being. With modernization there comes social change and sometimes those changes are not for the better when it comes to today’s children living in poverty.

There have been many different studies to determine the percentage of children living in poverty. The United States Census Bureau’s estimate of children living in poverty increased from 13 million to 13.4 million from 2004 to 2005. This is “according to the latest report from the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, a division of the U.S. Census Bureau that calculates annual income for states, counties, and school districts. The report based its calculations on federal tax returns from families in each of the nation’s 14,000 school districts, and also looked at Food Stamp participation.” (Breaden, 2008) In this study the most salient was the how many more children under the age of 5 that live in poverty. In 2004 it was 4.1 million and increased to 4.2 million in 2005. “The highest percentages of children in this age group living in poverty were found in Louisiana, Mississippi, and the District of Columbia.” (Breaden, 2008)

“The Atlanta-based Southern Education Foundation released a study with grim news.” (Hing, 2008) Fourteen states were studied and a majority of the public school children are considered in the poverty level. Eleven of these states lie in the south. These eleven states also have higher birth rates and a majority of them are Latino and Black children. They have suffered federal cutbacks in anti-poverty programs. “Today, the South is the only place in the United States in which fifty percent or more of the public school students fall under low-income.

In the past, the poverty rates have been a lot higher for Blacks than it has been for Whites. Today, “the poverty gap between White and Black children is closing. Rates are decreasing more rapidly for Black children than they are for Whites.” (Gaps narrow, 2008) Because of this change the rate of crime and violence among Blacks is also down, it is almost the same as it is for Whites.

“Families and their children experience poverty when they are unable to achieve a minimum, decent standard of living that allows them to participate fully in mainstream society.” (Child poverty, n.d.) There are many causes of poverty and one of them is material hardship. A couple others are human and social capital. We all know that the basic needs are food, clothing, and shelter. But since times have changed the basic needs have also changed. In the United States today these basic needs consist of running water, indoor plumbing, electricity, and telephone service. On the human and social capital side we need “education, basic life skills, and employment experience, as well as less tangible resources such as social networks and access to civil institutions.” (Child poverty, n.d.) Only with these resources can a person move to a better neighborhood, have better job opportunities, and receive better health care. When a person achieves these things he/she then has a higher social standing in the community.

Poverty is most common among low levels of parental education. “Eighty percent of children whose parents have less than a high school diploma live in low-income families.” (Child poverty, n.d.) Fifty percent of children whose parents have only a high school diploma are low-income. Single parent families are more frequently low-income than two-parent families, but more than one out of every four children with two working parents are still considered low-income. In rural and suburban areas the many children are still considered low-income with two working parents. This is because the cost of living is much higher in these areas and it is harder to provide a living for a family. The rates of low-income for minority children are higher than for white children. “About 60 percent of black and Latino children and 63 percent of American Indian children live in low-income families, compared to about 26 percent of white children and Asian children.” (Child poverty, n.d.) Children with immigrant parents also have a higher rate of being low-income.

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