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Questions:

1. Critically discuss the causes and consequences of child poverty.
2. How Poverty has many dimensions and is often entrenched.
3. Why the targets to end child poverty are not likely to be met.
4. How public health professionals (including environmental health) could help society become less unequal for children in the future.

 

Answers:

Introduction

Child poverty is a significant aspect in today’s world and many countries across the world faces this delicate issue, including the United Kingdom (Milteer et al. 2012). At present there are 22% of children living in poverty in the UK that is around 2.8 million children (Rockey and Wiseman 2015). As per the Marmot Review: Fair Society, Healthy Lives, health inequalities are unfair and they are preventable.  It is a matter of social justice to put them right. For reducing inequalities and improving well-being and health for all, two approaches need to be taken. The first step is to create an enabling society that maximises community as well as individual potential. The second step is to ensure social justice, sustainability and health are the central aspects of all policies made.

The present writing is on the critical discussion of the causes and consequences child poverty, the multidimensional feature of poverty, the reasons why the targets for ending child poverty cannot be ended and the role of public health professionals in helping the society to become less unequal for children in the future.

1. Critical discussion of the causes of child poverty

Child poverty is considered as the form of poverty that has influence on the daily lives of the children and limits the future opportunities in life. Though childhood poverty has the impact on millions and it stems from several problems, the main causes of childhood poverty are self-explanatory. Children born to low-income families become victims of childhood poverty. Single parent homes give rise to many problems that may lead to poverty. Parent with low levels of education are not able to receive high paying jobs. Children with unemployed parents are more likely to live in poverty. The majority of the children who are poverty-stricken are born to poor parents. Thus, the reasons like adult poverty, lack of education, government policies, discriminations, social services, unemployment and disabilities significantly make an impact on the prevalence of child poverty. Lack of parental resources for economy restricts the opportunities the children get. However, although unemployment is a main contributor to child poverty, it is not the only problem (Boston and Chapple 2014).

Demographic and economic factors like globalisation, labour market segmentation, deindustrialisation, residential segregation and migration of residents coming from middle-class from cities, constrain opportunities for economy and isolate poor children. The loss of principles and values in family, illegitimacy, decline of nuclear family, single mothers, are also major reasons for poverty among children. Children from unintended pregnancies are more likely to suffer poverty. Ethnicity also has links with poverty in some countries. Most of the apparent negative associations present between children’s attainment and growing up in poverty reflect parental advantages, unmeasured to some extent, that in a positive way affect the children’s attainment (Levitas 2012).

Poverty inevitably blights a child’s future. However, recurrent or long term poverty is a different aspect altogether. But whatever is the cause of poverty, one thing can be said in certain- the child is not responsible for the poverty he lives in. That is why elimination of poverty is a social responsibility and not a  parental responsibility (Milteer et al. 2012).

Critical discussion of the consequences of child poverty

Poverty surely damages lives, childhood and life chances. The society as a whole is damaged as the children, who are the future of the country, have a negative impact on them. The social outcomes of child poverty are manifold and long term. Children who grow up in situations of poverty have the propensity to have poorer health when they become adult and gain few educational qualifications. They also have higher rates of unemployment. In other words, they have the tendency to need greater public expenditure as contributing less to the economy. As adults, they also are more likely to suffer ill-health and become involved in offending, abusive relations and alcohol and drug abuse. Living in poor situations can reduce the expectations of own lives and lead to a cycle where poverty is naturally limited from one generation to another (Van Mechelen and Bradshaw 2013).

Children from poorer background may lag at all stages of education. They have the tendency to drop out from school and receive no education needed for better employment than their parents who have unstable economic conditions due to poor employment. Poverty has association with higher risk of premature death. Children coming  low income families have more chances to die at birth. They also have more chances of suffering chronic diseases and disability. Children who live in poverty are more likely to live in poor housing, making a negative influence on mental and physical health along with educational achievement (Van Lancker and Van Mechelen 2015).

As per the Marmot Review, a child’s social, cognitive and physical development during early years has a strong impact on the educational attainment and health. Low birth weight is particularly associated with poorer long-term health and educational outcomes, and with more disadvantaged mothers. One-quarter of all deaths under the age of one would be avoided if all births had the same levels of risk as those to women from the least poor and deprived. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to begin primary school with lower personal, social and emotional development and communication, literacy and language skills than their peers. Children from low-economic backgrounds are at an increased risk of developing conduct disorders.

However, they may be some exceptions to the established notion.  Some children in spite of coming from poor families have the urge in them to fight back poverty and establish themselves in lives. They take up the challenges in life enforced by poverty is a positive way and work hard to cross the obstacles and gain success. They take up education as the main priority and receive qualifications for landing up a job. This ends the cycle of poverty in their family and intiate a stable economical condition. Such examples are outstanding incidences where the effect of poverty fails to make a deep mark on the lives of the children as they pave the way for better education and health (Van Lancker and Van Mechelen 2013).

 

2. How poverty has many dimensions and is often entrenched

Poverty is distinguishable by the features of duration and multidimensionality. Poor people always face loss during their lives, live under the poverty line and the situations they face are defined by social and structural inequalities that have an influence by the multiple discriminations. This is dissimilar from the transitorily poor as they are the ones who can move in and out of poverty and can occasionally fall below the poverty line. Poor people have the need of good policies for coming out of their condition and need the society to give them their voice and adequately facilitate their human rights. The achievement of such priorities is the difficult challenge for the policies and the political agenda. This is because cultural and social relationships are entrenched (Duncan and Magnuson 2013).

3. Why the targets to end child poverty are not likely to be met

Many attempts have been made for reducing health inequalities in the recent past and they aim at tackling more proximal causes like smoking by taking up programs for bringing changes. However, there are chances that the targets to end child poverty are not likely to be met. Challenges to successful fulfillment of the target are many and these mainly include the focus to geographical areas instead of deprived people, who have the tendency to live in mixed communities, disagreement over the accountability and responsibility for health inequalities, insufficient workforce capacity, like training issues and reduction in professional areas, and lastly, failure to prioritise partnership working. These hindrances must be overcome for ensuring that child poverty is reduced (Townsend 2014).

4. How public health professionals could help society become less unequal for children in the future

Public health professionals have the responsibility of responding to the community agendas and building up a better future. They need to support the development of a better and genuine community. This would mean lending a helping hand to local communities and prioritising their issues. Focus on these issues would build the foundation for addressing traditional concerns. If all public health professionals campaign actively for reducing inequality in the society for children, some significant changes are sure to come up. The role of health professionals in helping the society to become a better place for children is an important one. They can make significant contributions by actively participating in the communities in which they live and implement health practice. Public health organisations must be a well known figure and role model in communities they serve in (Wolfe et al. 2013).

The main task that they can do is to spread awareness among the common mass. Health forms a main aspect of better living. Proper health leads to better standard of living and therefore the health professionals can work towards inequality among children by providing health services. It can be said that there is a need of public health heroes who will advocate for evidence based actions on health inequalities in particular. The focus must be on cross-Government action that are intended to provide children the best start in live. This must be the obvious main priority. The professionals must promise to pave the way for joining up in more actions for improving well being and health. This must include emotional well-being. Highlighting health inequilities by them would focus on the inadequacy of policies set for improving wellbeing and health. They must also create buzz around the dire results of austerity and welfare reforms on poor communities as such deed would surely result in eliminating inequialities present in the society (Bhutta and Black 2013).

 

References    

Bhutta, Z.A. and Black, R.E., 2013. Global maternal, newborn, and child health—so near and yet so far. New England Journal of Medicine, 369(23), pp.2226-2235.

Boston, J. and Chapple, S. (2014). Child Poverty in New Zealand. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books.

Duncan, G.J. and Magnuson, K., 2013. The long reach of early childhood poverty. In Economic stress, human capital, and families in Asia (pp. 57-70). Springer Netherlands.

Levitas, R., 2012. Utopia calling: eradicating child poverty in the United Kingdom and beyond. Global Child Poverty and Well-being: Measurement, Concepts, Policy and Action, pp.449-474.

Milteer, R.M., Ginsburg, K.R., Mulligan, D.A., Ameenuddin, N., Brown, A., Christakis, D.A., Cross, C., Falik, H.L., Hill, D.L., Hogan, M.J. and Levine, A.E., 2012. The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent-child bond: Focus on children in poverty.Pediatrics, 129(1), pp.e204-e213.

Rockey, T. and Wiseman, M., 2015. Child Poverty in the United States and the United Kingdom: What Counts? What’s Happened? What’s Next?.

Townsend, P., 2014. International Analysis Poverty. Routledge.

Van Lancker, W. and Van Mechelen, N., 2015. Universalism under siege? Exploring the association between targeting, child benefits and child poverty across 26 countries. Social science research, 50, pp.60-75.

Van Mechelen, N. and Bradshaw, J., 2013. Child poverty as a government priority: Child benefit packages for working families, 1992–2009. In Minimum income protection in flux (pp. 81-107). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Wolfe, I., Thompson, M., Gill, P., Tamburlini, G., Blair, M., van den Bruel, A., Ehrich, J., Pettoello-Mantovani, M., Janson, S., Karanikolos, M. and McKee, M., 2013. Health services for children in western Europe. The Lancet, 381(9873), pp.1224-1234.

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