What It’s Really Like To Deal With Health Issues As A Child In Poverty

Could you imagine if children played football without helmets? This is what Jim Dwyer a New York Times author compared children living in poverty to, saying their “everyday life causes social concussions.” Clearly, it is a known fact that football is way too dangerous to be played without a helmet, but children in poverty don’t have a “helmet” to protect them. The amount of stress put on children within poor families affects who they become and even how their brain develops. Research has shown this stress causes cortisol levels in the brain to be high, which in a developing brain of a child causes parts of the brain to develop differently then children that aren’t faced with the high stress environments. This environment causes them to pick up on unhealthy habits such as smoking cigarettes. Additionally, the children are at a great risk to develop diseases, obesity and mental illness. It is impossible to control this ongoing cycle completely, but how is it fair for these children to face an enormous amount of obstacles that most children do not even have to think or worry about?


According to the census in 2014, children represented 23.3 percent of the population and were 33.3 percent of the people that were in poverty. The book: Whats Wrong With the Poor? addresses all the programs and projects created to try and help the poor, but explains how all of them did little to help anything. Initiatives like President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, had gone on for roughly three years back in the 1960s, but yet not much had changed for the conditions of the poor Black Americans. The reason many blame the failures of the initiatives is because they were underfunded and not researched enough to actually know what to focus on.
screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-51-48-pmThe New York City’s health commissioner, Dr. Mary T. Basset said, “A lot more work has been committed to helping infants survive early death. Less has been done to truly help them thrive.” Due to a child’s family being in poverty, many young children leave school to try and get jobs to help provide for the family. This in return only sets them back farther because in the future they do not have enough education to ever get a more substantial and stable job. This creates a constant cycle for those in poverty. Thus, without enough income to afford basic necessities for the family, many choose to forgo on medical treatment of any kind. This clearly causes many issues; for Americans not in poverty they can almost always treat medical problems before they become a greater issue, but those in poverty allow their medical issues to grow past the point of repair. Consequently, children in poverty allow the stress and medical needs to add up so much they can never fully repair, and end up not living a full healthy long life. Sadly, the younger the child is the poorer they are. As Americans we believe in an equal opportunity for all, but these children are not receiving this at all.

Children in poverty often by a young age do not believe that life will get any better for them, and this causes many mental health problems. In 2014, it was recorded that more than 31 million children in America were below the poverty line or just barely above it. These children face higher chances of infant mortality risks, along with malnutrition, which was previously discussed, to be linked towards many other illnesses.

Screen Shot 2016-11-28 at 9.41.10 PM.pngClearly, this is an overwhelming issue that needs to be addressed. A study was done to see if raising the federal minimum wage by just $1 would have any effect on infant mortality and low birth weight, and the results showed that their would be a 4% decrease in infant death during there first year. Also, roughly 3,000 low weight births would have not happened. This would allow the parents living in poverty to have more money and in return could take better care of the child and themselves during pregnancy. Although this is just one solution to a huge issue, it is imperative to see how these American children deserve to have a better chance at success in life. Lastly, help them control their mental and physical health because of the situation they were born into with no control over.


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