According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF 2006) “children living in poverty are those who experience deprivation of the material, spiritual and emotional resources needed to survive, develop and thrive, leaving them unable to enjoy their rights, achieve their full potential or participate as full and equal members of society”. The Christian Children Fund (CCF) definition is based on Deprivation (lack of essential conditions and services needed for the development of a child’s full potential), exclusion (denial of rights, dignity and voice as a result of prejudiced processes) and vulnerability (incapability of society to handle deal with threats to children in their environment).
Children living in poverty are as a result of being born to poor parent(s) who are poor as a result of various reasons such as unemployment or low paid jobs, lack of education, government policies, disabilities and discrimination. When a parent lacks the required resources such as a regular disposable income to bring up a child, that child’s well-being is restricted. Other causes of child poverty includes teen pregnancy, unplanned pregnancy, increase in number of single parents (a child raised by a single parent is more likely to live in poverty than that raised by a couple) and insufficient benefits (CPAG 2015). In United Kingdom, the benefits system is in place to act as a safety barrier for people who are out of work or earn insufficient amount of money. The reality is that these benefits are hardly ever enough to cater for the needs of these people thereby affecting their families, leaving them to live below the poverty line (CPAG 2015).
The effects of child poverty are not far fetching. This menace damages a child in all aspects- physically, socially, emotionally. A child living in poverty is prone to ill-health, low attainment in life, low morale and a feeling of rejection. These can give rise to anti-social behaviours which will in turn affect the society. According to Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG 2015), it was reported that child poverty costs the United Kingdom at least £29 billion pounds each year, £20. 5 billion of which is a direct cost to the government due to the additional demands for services and benefits.
To effectively curb this issue, there has to be a collective effort from both the government and her people. The government has to provide profitable jobs with excellent incentives to motivate people to work; better benefits structure, where benefits received is not too much to discourage work and at the same time not too low in which case they are found living below the poverty line.
REFERENCES AND BIBLOGRAPHY
Child Poverty Action Group. 2015. Child poverty facts and figures. [Online] Child Poverty Action Group. Available at: < http://www.cpag.org.uk/child-poverty-facts-and-figures> [Assessed 16 February 2015].
Enrique, et al. 2006. Children living in poverty: Overview of definitions, measurements and policy. [Pdf] New York: United Nations Children’s Fund. Available at: < http://www.unicef.org/Children_Living_In_Poverty.pdf> [Assessed 16 February 2015].
TAQ 3: CHILD POVERTY IN BRITAIN: WHY YOU SHOULD ACT.
Child poverty in Britain is a phenomenon that should be addressed by everyone whether an individual is being classed as middle class citizen or not as it affects the whole society in the long run. Having read through a few articles on child poverty, interesting facts and figures has made me both curious and emotional. According to the Child Poverty Action Group’s write up (CPAG 2015) which I read online, there are currently 3.5 million children living in poverty in the United Kingdom, that’s a ratio of more than one in four. These kids live in deplorable conditions, often left cold and hungry, unable to play and have fun with friends or even go on school trips. All these situations affect them in the long term. The CPAG blog also reported that by the age of sixteen, children receiving free meals at school achieve 1.7 grades lower at GCSE than their wealthier peers; they leave school with lower qualifications which in turn lead to lower earnings over the course of a working life time and it has also been projected that 4.7 million children will be living in poverty by 2020.
I personally find these figures appalling and saddening and I believe that while the government has a responsibility to her people, companies and individual members of the society all have a role to play if we are to tackle this issue effectively.
Increases in the number of single mothers or parent, unplanned pregnancies, teenage pregnancies are some of the underlying causes of child poverty. Teenagers (kids who think they are adults and matured enough to make major decisions, feel it is their God- given right to be rebellious and can hardly take care of themselves) should not be having children. These teenagers need to be sexually educated, encouraged to get involved in profitable activities that will open their minds and expand their horizons so they can tap into their full potential. This is not to say that sometimes these kids would not derail from the right path. This is where having a strong family unit comes into play. If and when they do, they need to be supported emotionally, physically, financially especially by family.
Companies (minor, major, multi- national) should also be involved. These companies should have a social responsibility to the community in which they are operating. Having support groups, organising campaigns, making regular donations in cash and in kind and creating awareness will suffice. The government should not be less concerned. She has a duty to provide basic amenities, profitable jobs and benefits structure that will motivate and inspire her people.
Children are gifts that should be cherished. They should not be born to suffer and live in poverty. They need to be nurtured in love because they are after all- OUR future.