Effects of Poverty on Children

May 1, 2017

Children living in poverty are often faced with certain challenges, whereas people who grow up in a financially stable environment, are not confronted with those problems. More affluent children are fortunate to have what they need with little to no worry about losing it. On the other hand, many poor children have little resources provided to them and grow up in an unsafe environment. These setbacks cause further disadvantages throughout their lifetime. In the novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and modern sources, the authors use poverty to explore the disadvantages it has on children growing up.


The novel and the article “Education in Chronically Poor Rural Areas Lags across Generations” By Ulrich and Carsey, demonstrates that children dealing with poverty receive an inadequate education. In the novel, the main character Junior is a young Indian boy that does not come from a family of wealth. During school he complained, “I was staring a geometry book that was at least thirty years older than I was… my school and my tribe are so poor and sad that we have to study from the same dang books our parents studied from” (Alexie 31). This shows how he was not provided with proper and up-to-date learning materials, which causes further lack of a suitable education. His reservation is not able to afford the proper learning materials forcing the children to continue to learn insufficiently. Other children living outside his reservation are more affluent and are gifted a sufficient education that will help better prepare them for their future. The lack of education for children dealing with poverty has also been demonstrated in an article written by the Carsey institute. According to the article, the survey that was conducted found “significantly lower education levels in chronically poor communities compared with amenity-rich amenity-transition, and declining communities” (Ulrich and Carsey 1). Not only are children receiving insufficient learning materials, they are proven to do worse in school than more affluent children. They are not receiving an adequate education to help prepare them for their future because they are poor. Children that grow up in a more affluent environment have access to plenteous learning materials which allows them to perform better in school and obtain more knowledge. Children living in poverty receive an improper education because they are often not provided with proper learning materials.


The novel and article “What Does it Mean to Be Poor in America” by Federmen and Garner the shows that poverty causes children to grow up with poor living conditions. In the novel, Junior’s friend Rowdy goes home to an unsafe environment where he is not cared for. More often than not “his father is drinking hard and throwing punches, so Rowdy and his mother are always walking around with bruised and bloody faces” (Alexie 16). Since Rowdy’s father deals with plenteous financial issues, he turns to alcohol and takes his anger out on his wife and son. This creates an unsafe and uncomfortable environment for Rowdy which makes his life at home miserable. More affluent families are fortunate to not come home to an unsafe environment like Rowdy does. They are able to peacefully enjoy being home because they do not have to worry about money problems. Children living with poverty are not only less safe, but do not have the money to create a suitable home with plenteous resources. In the article, Federman and Garner demonstrate how “the nonworking apportion a greater share of expenditures to commodities such as food, shelter, and utilities. About 4 percent of spending is for shelter and utilities and 30 percent is for food among the nonworking group” (Federman and Garner 4). This indicates that people living with less money have no choice but to spend most, if not all of their money on necessities. They barely have enough money to buy what they need and cannot pay for other items that could improve their living conditions. Children living better off are given adequate resources and are able to grow up without having to worry about running out of necessities. Children living in poverty are not guaranteed to live in a safe environment with sufficient materials they would find useful growing up.


In the novel and the article “Poverty and Adolescent Mental Health” by Dashiff, DiMicco, Myers, and Sheppard, it is demonstrated that children growing up with poverty have the tendency to develop poor social skills. Alexie reveals how Junior has grown up his whole life knowing the rules from his reservation, which are not morally right. Confused by his enemy Rodger’s reaction to getting punched in the face, Junior thought to himself, “I behaved exactly the way I was supposed to behave. But these white boys ignored the rules. In fact they followed a whole other set of mysterious rules where people apparently did not get into fist fights” (Alexie 65-66). Junior grew up with inadequate social skills because of the poor area that he lived in. He has learned rules that guided him through his life on the reservation, but they are inappropriate when taking into account adequate rules that should be applied to everyone’s life no matter the amount of wealth possessed. This causes him to behave and eventually develop improperly. More affluent children do not need to learn such improper rules because they do not face those problems. This allows more room for them to grow up with the seemingly basic and important rules that every child should be aware of. In the article, the authors presented that poverty causes poor mental health and issues in social development. While observing the effects of poverty on a child’s mental health, the authors discovered that “a spiral of adverse socioeconomic consequences can result from the influence of mental health problems and other outcomes such as high school dropout, lack of employment opportunities, [and] behavioral problems” (Dashiff, DiMicco, Myers, and Sheppard 26). This shows that children living in poverty develop poor behavioral and development problems. This affects the way they treat others and even their future. More affluent children tend to have a better mental health because they are not faced with numerous problems happening at home and around them that can cause inadequate social skills or behavior. Children living with poverty tends to cause poor social skills and development. 


According to the novel and modern sources, children living in a poor environment are faced with disadvantages created by poverty. Many kids living in poverty are put at a disadvantage because of the unfortunate environment that they grow up in. It is crucial that less fortunate children learn to overcome these problems. Although they may not have grown up in a suitable environment as more affluent children have, they can acknowledge their unfortunate past and use it to succeed in the future. They know what it is like to live in poor circumstances, and therefore they can work harder to avoid and overcome them. Working hard and being able to overlook their disadvantages can create a more successful future and life for them.






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