Children in Need – The True Cost of Poverty

Posted on November 06, 2010 by CJ Article Team


bchildrenPoverty has been defined as being “like a punishment for a crime you didn’t commit.” Millions of children in need around the world are being punished every day – and their only “crime” was being born into poverty. Despite a world that seems to hang on every word that falls from the lips of the top names on the Fortune 500 list, the truth is there are millions of children in need who know nothing of the bright lights and affluent lifestyles of the rich and famous. Their only concern is surviving each day as it comes.

Fourteen million American children are hungry or at risk of hunger – that’s 30 percent of the population. These statistics prove that child poverty isn’t just a problem in the developing world; it’s a problem on our own shores, too. Yet child poverty in the United States could be alleviated for $45 billion, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty. Although that sounds like a huge amount of money, it is in fact less than the amount of money given in annual tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans during the 1980s and ’90s.

According to UNICEF, well over 650 million children worldwide live in extreme poverty, and those numbers are on the rise. Poverty is defined as a lack of access to basic education, adequate health care and a healthy diet. These three fundamental needs affect the rest of children’s lives, define what kind of jobs they end up with, whether they’ll be strong enough or have sufficient access to health care to fight off even the most common illnesses, and how they develop physically and mentally. Going hungry isn’t just a short-term problem – it leads to health care problems in the future, too.

The National Center for Children in Poverty reports that just $1 spent on childhood immunization saves the country $10 in later health costs. And with health provision becoming a major concern for every American, anything that can be done to prevent the situation from deteriorating further has to be the right thing to do.

Children in need who grow up in poverty pay a heavy price throughout their lives. Research has shown that they suffer from more illnesses, perform poorly in school, and have more risk of succumbing to mental health problems, drug dependency or falling into crime and the penal system. Yes, there are success stories, but they are few and far between in comparison to the millions of untold stories about the truth about children in poverty.

Communities that are free of poverty are free to choose their own destinies. But communities blighted by poverty, whether caused by famine, a lack of jobs or the failure of the state to support its most needy citizens, don’t have that freedom. Their destiny is preordained, and is a self-fulfilling prophecy that is almost impossible to break. Communities blighted by war are possibly the worst hit, with the innocent always suffering the greatest consequences.

Mohandas Ghandi, political and spiritual leader in India, said, “If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.” It is this battle that is the most crucial if we are to win the war on child poverty.

It isn’t just a matter of injecting cash into the poorest communities; there needs to be a fundamental change at ground level in how we tackle child poverty. If we concentrate on supporting those who are most vulnerable to the effects of poverty, the cycle can be broken and a change for the better can take hold. Much of this work is taken on by local churches, who see the Bible’s principles of loving thy neighbor as among the strongest weapons in the fight against child poverty. By encouraging one another to support and care for children in need, that community spirit can find fertile ground upon which to grow and flourish.

Child poverty is unacceptable, it’s destructive, and it’s an issue that should concern every single American. But most important, it can be changed. With compassion, care and a practical approach that tackles the root causes, child poverty can be consigned to the history books and no longer be a specter that haunts the modern age.

Author is an experienced freelance journalist who supports children in need and the continuing fight against child poverty by working with Christian charities to help make a difference to children around the world.

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By Jeremy P Stanfords


Posted by CJ Article Team

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