Effects of poverty, hunger, and homelessness on children
The national economic crises have affected millions of people across the globe, with the significant people being children under the age of 18. Job layoffs, increasing populations, shortage of resources as well as the skyrocketing cost of living have led to many people facing poverty. The livelihood of the American people and the society, in general, has negatively been affected by poverty, with its worst part felt by those under the age of 18. The unemployment rates, the number of people, as well as the number of children is not in line with the economy, and hence, poverty and hunger have been felt across the society (King, 2016). Poverty, especially in the low-income communities is associated with hunger and homelessness. The low-income part of the community experiences economic challenges that render them unable to meet their primary needs. Hunger and homelessness being the significant outcomes of poverty mostly affect the children.
In almost all cities of the world, there are street children who in one way or the other were forced to leave their homes for streets. Poverty has rendered millions of children hungry and homeless. It is estimated that the average age of the street persons and homeless persons in the United States of America is nine. Furthermore, there are millions of street children found across the United States cities who are below the age of nine. Recent statistics have indicated that there are over 1.3 million homeless children in the United States, and the primary cause of their homelessness is poverty.
Homelessness to children is mainly attributed to unemployment and the economic issues of their families. In most parts of the world, especially in Africa, most of the parents have an average of 5 children, and in most cases, they are not in a position to offer them their primary needs. Unemployed parents with more than four children cannot provide food for their children due to the economic crises, a factor that forces children to look for food by themselves (Eamon, 2001). When children begin to look for food on their own, their future is negatively impacted as they will not have time to go to school. Furthermore, when children start looking for food by themselves, they end up in the streets of major cities where they become street children.
Poverty, which is the reason for hunger and homelessness has a significant effect on children. Children who face poverty get exposed to many health-related problems, psychological trauma, and hindered personal life in future. Homeless children are exposed to rape-related cases, HIV and Aids infections, killings, and bullying. Psychological impacts of poverty on children are amongst the top effects that have so far been identified in the United States of America (“Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth,” n.d.). Even though it is an irony for one of the wealthiest nations to have children facing poverty, it is true that over a million children across the United States are living in poverty, and this has affected their psychological well-being.
Studies have shown that many children in the United States of America are living in poverty, with no place to call a home. According to the American Psychological Association (2014), acronymic as APA, in the year 2014 alone, there were 15.4 million children in America who were categorized as food insecure. The children were homeless and could not be able to access enough food. More so, to prove the fact that poverty is the leading cause of hunger and homelessness in children, the American Psychological Association further offered data on the significant parts of the community with the highest number of homeless and hungry children. The association averred that the households whose income is below the federal poverty index, families categorized as single parents, Hispanics and African households had a higher level of food insecurity, hence a high poverty rate. As such, children from such categories experience numerous adverse effects of poverty.
Toxic stress has been attributed to low food security. This is as a result of the unmitigated activation of the body’s stress controlling structure. That is, with the constant hunger and lack of food, the children may face different levels of stress that hinder their body functionality (America, 2014). Such children would look dull, malnourished and are slow thinkers. This is because of the lack of food and stress in their stomach that results in negative impact on the central nervous system.
Cognitive effects to children is a devastating psychological trauma mainly caused by poverty. Children’s development relies on maternal and maternal care, food security and a favorable environment for mental growth (Yoshikawa et al., 2012). Children who are homeless are at a high risk of chronic hunger, which leads to learning disabilities as well as the cognitive impairment that may affect the children’s psychological growth.
Poverty which leads to hunger and homelessness in children brings numerous negative implications to the society. This means that the problems of poverty socially and economically impact the society. Homeless children stay on the streets, and there is a high likelihood that most of them may transform into gangs and thieves (Chilton & Rabinowich, 2012). Most of the terror groups, as well as gangster groups, recruit children in the streets who have no option but to join the illegal groups. When there is a high number of homeless children in the cities, the crime rate is always at the highest level, and most of the people may end up being robbed of their properties. Furthermore, the economy of a nation may be negatively impacted by poverty.
Homeless children may require the help of the government, such as creating a home for them and also getting medication. Again, hungry as well as homeless children may need food and clean water which is the duty that can be offered by the governments or nongovernmental organizations. The financial implications as a result of homeless children may render some other the progress of national infrastructures to come to a halt. Money that would have been used in buying medications, developing roads as well as building bridges is used in purchasing food and erecting temporary structures for the homeless children.
In summary, therefore, job layoffs, increasing populations, shortage of resources as well as the skyrocketing cost of living have led to many people facing poverty, especially children. Poverty has rendered millions of children hungry and homeless. Children who face poverty get exposed to many health-related problems, psychological trauma, and hindered personal life in future. Continuous hunger and lack of food by children may make them face different levels of stress that impedes their body functioning hence learning disabilities as well as the cognitive impairment that may affect psychological growth. Society is impacted by homeless and hunger that children face.
- America, F. (2014). Hunger in America 2014. Retrieved from https://www. hungernet. org/research/hungerstudy/National% 20Office% 20Docs/Hunger% 20Study% 20Executive% 2 0Summary. pdf.
- American Psychological Association. (2014). Effects of poverty, hunger, and homelessness on children and youth. American Psychological Association.
- Chilton, M., & Rabinowich, J. (2012). Toxic stress and child hunger over the life course: Three case studies. Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk, 3(1), 3.
- Eamon, M. K. (2001). The effects of poverty on children’s socioemotional development: An ecological systems analysis. Social work, 46(3), 256-266.
- Effects of Poverty, Hunger and Homelessness on Children and Youth. (n.d.). Retrieved 27 October 2017, from http://www.apa.org/pi/families/poverty.aspx
- King, C. (2016). Food insecurity and housing instability in vulnerable families. Review of Economics of the Household, 1-19.
- Yoshikawa, H., Aber, J. L., & Beardslee, W. R. (2012). The effects of poverty on the mental, emotional, and behavioral health of children and youth: implications for prevention. American Psychologist, 67(4), 272.
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