Child poverty


Child poverty is a social policy among children who live in poverty. Any child living below the minimum acceptable standard lifestyles is a deprived child (Social Mobility & Child Poverty Commission, 2014). Most of the children who live in poverty or below poverty levels are either from low-income families or orphans who are brought up with inadequate or absent resources. The lowest acceptable standard of living varies in different states. In developing countries, the level is always lower than those for developed countries (Wood, 2003). Apart from the poor children who are orphans, the rest have parents who work. However, these parents earn low wages that are not enough to sustain their families. Apart from low wages, there are other factors which contribute to child poverty. The contributing factors are classified as social, economic or political. Poverty has adverse impacts on the children socially, mentally, emotionally, as well as impacting negatively on a child’s behavior and academic performance. Child poverty is classified as a social policy issue since it affects a significant population globally (Social Mobility & Child Poverty Commission, 2014).

How values and self-interest shaped the development of child poverty

Self-interest is a major contributor to child poverty in developing countries. Greedy and self-centered leaders grab and squander the resources availed to assist children affected by poverty. Children in poverty stricken areas, therefore, continue to sink into the depths of hunger because of the choices of the leaders who represent them (Wood, 2003). The leaders serve their interests first and enrich themselves sidelining the welfare of the people for which they are responsible. When relief food issued for the poverty stricken areas for children, these leaders end up selling the aid to those who can afford to buy. It then results in rising cases of malnutrition and a higher mortality rate since most parents are barely able to provide the commodities. The lives of children in such areas thus hung on a thin thread since their lives depend on the cost of food aid (Wood, 2003).

Factors contributing to child poverty

Social factors

Large families

A large family refers to a household that has more than four children. More children in a family would mean an increased dependency ratio. The number of children depending on a single or both parents influences the standard of living of all children in a family. Most large families have the breadwinners who are either unemployed or have a low level of education and cannot, therefore, offer their children a higher standard life that is above the poverty line (Murali & Oyebode, 2004). In most cases, large families always have some or all of the children in pre-schools which require fee payment. The parents have to provide education for all the children, feed them and provide for all the resources needed by children. Unfortunately, most large families are not able to afford enough funds for providing children needs. As a result, the vulnerable children end up lacking the resources that they should have at their young ages. Some parents also gave birth to their first children at a very young age and as a result ended up giving birth to more than four kids, hence a large family (Social Mobility & Child Poverty Commission, 2014). In developing countries, most poor children come from large children. However, in most developed countries, some policies govern the number of children each household should raise (Murali & Oyebode, 2004).

Lone parents

In families where a single parent is raising the kids, there is always a higher chance that the children live in poverty (Wagstaff, 2002). In most cases, lone parents fail to take care of their children in the required standards. It is easier to raise children above poverty when both parents are involved. Single parents strain to give their children the resources they need. It may be due to unemployment or low wages. When parents both raise their children, the dependency ratio reduces when both of them are employed (Murali & Oyebode, 2004). When one parent is unemployed, the other could take care of the children’s welfare unlike in lone parent families where all children can only depend on one person.

Families affected by disabilities

Disabled persons require treatment and need to live under special care. Families are living with and taking care of the handicapped use extra funds to ensure that their disabled members of the family get special treatment. Taking care of the disabled is often very expensive, and parents spend a lot in the process. In some cases, parents resign from work to caring for the disabled. The healthy children in the family are affected in many ways and could suffer child poverty due to lack of resources. Disabled persons are very delicate, and parents tend to look after them more than they care for the rest of the family. Disability is one of the major factors that contribute to and spread child poverty (Social Mobility & Child Poverty Commission, 2014).



Most poor children come from families where the parents are unemployed. Unemployment largely contributes to child poverty as it directly affects children in a household. Parents who are unemployed are not able to raise children above the minimum standards of living. They cannot provide adequate food, shelter, education and other primary needs for their kids. Some very many parents are unemployed, and this raises the level of child poverty significantly. Unemployment may also occur when an individual loses his or her job. The loss of a job leaves a family with fewer financial resources which may at times not be adequate to support their families. Unemployment is among the leading causes of child poverty (Gordon et al., 2000).

Low wages

Having a job is not a guarantee that a person does not suffer poverty. Some employees earn petite compared to what they need to spend in their households. Low wages makes parents strain as they try to make their children’s living standard better. Child care is unaffordable when parents earn a low income since they cannot provide proper education and training, adequate food and clothing and in most times, such families live in inadequate housing (Wood, 2003). Earning low income is likely to promote low self-esteem on children when their counterparts have most of the resources that their parents cannot afford since they do not have adequate funds to sustain better families (Gordon et al., 2000).

Political factors

War and Political Instability

Countries may experience conflict which leads to political instability due to some reasons. Most colonized countries fall victims of political instability. Others which had violence among communities or with other communities are also politically unstable. Once, a country experiences violent conflict; there is no assurance that there will be stability, security, or any form of economic development. Wars lead to the destruction of resources and loss of jobs which causes unemployment and eventually child poverty. It may also result in loss of lives which leaves many children as orphans. These children would have no one to provide all the resources they require and therefore, end up living below poverty levels (Gordon et al., 2000).

Countries need to have law and regulations that protect the citizens’ property, rights, as well as investment. A politically unstable government may not have any legislation to protect citizens. As a result, people may lose their investments and have no means to take care of their children. Children, therefore, end up living below the minimum required standards of living due to wars and political instabilities (Wood, 2003).

National debt

Most developing countries have huge loads of debts that accrue from loans offered by richer nations. When developing countries face a shortage of funds in running its activities, they tend to borrow loans from wealthy countries or international financial institutions. New policies issued by commercial organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, require developing countries to engage in open markets where outside investors and businesses can invest in and introduce their products in the countries (Social Mobility & Child Poverty Commission, 2014). These activities increase competition for the local products and eventually lower their sales. A reduction in the sales of products means the poor performance of the local business and lower income for the entrepreneurs. Paying off massive national debts makes a nation bankrupt and unable to offer adequate funds and services required in the country. As a result, many people become weak and so do their children (Social Mobility & Child Poverty Commission, 2014).

Effects of child poverty

Emotional problems

Children who live in low-income families have a higher chance of suffering emotional problems as compared to those who have never experienced poverty. Children lacking basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing are vulnerable to psychological disorders such as anger, disgust, fear and sadness. Inability to provide resources for the poor kids leaves them with no sense of security. They tend to feel hopeless in life as they do not have an assurance of a better life in the future. Most of them are always sad and disturbed. At school, these children mix up with others who come from wealthy families. The difference between the two classes of children is significant, and it is usually easy to tell when a child is from a wealthy family or a poor background. The poor children dress in low-class clothes, have an unpleasant smell and at times even go to school with torn uniforms. The disparity makes the poor have a feeling of emptiness and loss of pleasure (Wood, 2003).

Behavioral issues

Children living in poverty behave differently from others with better lives. They often try to isolate themselves from the rest. Children who isolate themselves always feel lonely, and this could lead to a long-term effect on their behaviors (Wagstaff, 2002). Such children become introverts in most cases, and they keep their issues to themselves. Others become aggressive, and whenever they are ridiculed or angered by other kids, they end up fighting. Aggression could lead to violence and becomes a child’s behavior all the way to adulthood. Most children who are children have anti-social behaviors. They are never free with others at school, home or in any public places. They do not engage in social activities with other children as they feel inferior and not worth (Gordon et al., 2000). Some may end up stealing other kids’ property so that they can have them as well. Long term stealing may lead the children to become adult robbers and thieves who commit bigger political crimes to earn a living.

Academic impacts of child poverty

Children from low-income families are likely to record a poor performance in academics. A child, who goes to school hungry is not able to concentrate on his or her class work and in turn, performs dismally (Gordon et al., 2000). While at school, children from low-income families are ridiculed by other kids on their physical appearance, grooming, and hygiene and even on places they live. Such students feel intimidated and never like school (Wagstaff, 2002). They, in turn, end up poor scoring grades at school. Others lack academic resources required for educational activities. As a result, they cannot acquire adequate learning. Lack of educational facilities for children may lead them to drop out of school. Increased number of school dropouts in a nation increases social crimes, unemployment due to lack of knowledge and skills, and above all, it leads to increased child poverty in the country. Some poor children never attend schools due to lack of funds and other resources (Wagstaff, 2002).

Dysfunctional families

Families with poor children often have a lot of issues arising in the families. Since the kids are never satisfied with what they have, they tend to cause chaos in the household. The aggressive ones might even pick up fights with their fellow children. As a result of these violent issues, the families are never in one piece because every member of the household has myriad problems to make them complain. In some low-income families, children are forced to handle adult matters such as looking for income when they are supposed to study. The latter disintegrates a child’s mind, and he or she loses concentration on the activities they should be engaging in as children (Social Mobility & Child Poverty Commission, 2014).

Poor health

Low-income families have little money to support their well-being. In most cases, they cannot afford proper feeding for the children (Gordon et al., 2000). Some of them go hungry in most cases. A balanced diet is essential for child development. Low-income families cannot meet the expenses for proper diet, and as a result, the children end up having malnourished bodies. Poor parents may not have enough funds for medication in case their children fall ill. As a result, when a child falls sick they stay at home with no drugs, and this becomes a risk to their health. Infant mortality may also occur due to child poverty when mothers cannot take care of their children’s health (Gordon et al., 2000).


Child poverty is a social policy affecting many nations and has been discussed widely over the years. Developed and developing countries are affected by child poverty caused by many reasons. Self-interest is one of the factors that contributed to child poverty in developed countries. Other factors contributing to the development of child poverty include the political factors such as war and instability and national debts, economic factors such as unemployment and low wages, and the social factors like large families, lone parents, and disabilities (Murali & Oyebode, 2004). These factors either enhance the existing child poverty or contribute to the development of new scenarios of child poverty. Child poverty has many challenges and negative impacts. The effects of child poverty include emotional issues, behavioral problems, adverse academic implications, poor health and dysfunctional families (Gordon, et al., 2000). Many states are striving to reduce poverty levels by offering support to families of low income.




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