A common occurrence and problem today in the 21st century, especially in developing countries, is the problem on poverty. The term poverty is defined as one's incapacity to meet the basic needs such as shelter, food, and services. The problem does not end in developing countries as there are still areas in developed countries, such as the United States, that houses communities below the poverty line. Poverty can be caused by a myriad of possibilities stretching out from the person’s location, income, educational level to the aftermath of a crisis or conflict. At present, many experts and even government officials are starting to be concerned with the vast effects of poverty especially within families. This paper will discuss the various social, physiological, and psychological effects caused by poverty.
Physically, poverty causes immense hunger and a significant risk for complications due to living conditions. In some studies, children in poverty are more likely to experience complications and health risks from infectious diseases. Some babies are given birth prematurely from poor families and are underweight from the lack of nutrients upon their development. There are also records of lead content and irregular gene structure in their bloods, which comprises 12% in the national level in the US. Children from low income households are also prone in becoming obese as 34% of these children could only purchase junk food and pre-cooked meals that lack nutrients. At present, these obese children continue to increase and as they grow, it adds up to the obese adults present in society today. Poor children are prone to heart attacks, asthma, bronchitis and cancer compared to their counterparts. Malnutrition and starvation can also stunt a child and adult’s growth. Records have indicated such as the NLSY that there is a substantial differential between the heights of average-rich people as compared to those from poverty . Adults from poverty subject their bodies more to the influence of various substances such as tobacco, alcohol and drugs to deal with the stress poverty gives them. Obesity is also a common problem with poor adults especially in the United States. Through obesity and other complications caused by intake substances, infectious diseases are also contracted by those people living in low-income communities. Some examples of these diseases are tuberculosis, lung cancer, influenza, hepatitis, and Chlamydia. The environment is also an influential factor that causes poor people to have a weaker immune system, since most low-income communities have poor waste facilities and disposal areas .
There are also psychological effects of poverty as recorded by some neuroscience research. For children coming from impoverished families, they are exposed to many factors such as cigarette smoke, alcohol, and toxins that may affect neural and brain development. Infants and young ones are prone in witnessing their parent's depression, mental disorders and abuse that would hinder caregiving. Some children may develop depression, rebellious behavior, short attention span and sometimes, mental insanity. Studies also record that children from poverty areas suffer from ADHD, self-harming behaviors and autism . As these children grow, they would still harbor these same problems, which would then be affected by stress due to various types of stressors such as debt, unemployment, poor physical health and environment. Others acquire schizophrenia, dementia, insomnia, delusions and self-inflicting behaviors that may lead to suicide and insanity. Substance abuse is a known contributing factor that causes mental disorders in adults .
In some cases, poverty also affects social aspects of people especially once they reach their limit. In some cases, domestic violence is equated with the term poverty. Poor women, including girls, are abused by others because they do not have an economic means to escape this nightmare. Abusers easily entice these women to work for them since their lack of education and skills makes them easily controllable. They would promise an escape from their violence filled homes, in turn for their services. Meanwhile, some women would keep quiet about their abusive homes since they cannot break free from it. Most households in poor areas are recorded to have cases of sexual and substance abuse. Poor men, who lose faith in the national government and to society, would often vent on their wives for their awful luck. Since they could not access welfare services and police assistance easily, some of them tend to keep it to themselves. Children are also exposed to violence in low-income neighborhoods that can then add up to their stress levels. Some may even resort into heinous crimes just to get money to buy food or medicine .
For children living in poverty, their educational achievement is also affected. In the United States for instance, poor children tend to fail more than others. They receive lower scores and would most likely finish only up to high school. Their health complications would prevent them from learning such as poor vision, lead poisoning, asthma and inadequate nutrition needed for physical activities and mental health. Some children would often attend schools with poor facilities, overcrowded classroom and inexperienced teachers because that is what they can afford. Since these third-rate schools often attract a variety of other kids, drugs and illegal activities are usually learnt by these children rather than learning about science, math or logic. Children would be enticed to join juvenile gangs and meet harmful influences in their life. Teenage pregnancy while in school is also a common occurrence in children in poverty. Teenage mothers are more likely to drop out, because they have to give birth and concentrate on taking care of the child. Repeating school would be less likely as expenses would be given to daily expenses. Should the person want to continue up to college, they are often forced out of it since their parents cannot pay for the high tuition and miscellaneous fees in college. Some, who are eager enough to pursue college, would have to work while attending school to provide for all the expenses .
There is still no guaranteed solution to end the problem and effects of poverty. National governments around the globe are slowly acting on reducing the effects of poverty by launching feeding programs for pregnant women and children, free education for children and low cost health insurance for all. There are also non-profit organizations that are launching similar programs to reduce the effects of poverty. However, the fight against poverty is still far from its conclusion as these projects are only temporary. What may be able to fully reduce this problem is the creation of jobs for these families and assistance to children.
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