Reducing Child Poverty Essay

People living in poverty are disadvantaged because they can’t afford things they need; the Welsh Government defines it as “not having enough money to buy food, clothing and a safe place to live”3. On a worldwide scale this issue is much worse, with many children having no access to clean water and adequate sanitation which leads to 1. 4 million children dying each year1. Many more die (10. 6 million in total) prematurely from other poverty related problems, such as lack of medicine.

According to the Global Issues website, there are 1 billion children living in poverty globally, that’s almost 12 of the children in the world1. It’s important to have strategies in place to try to reduce child poverty because it is a vicious cycle, meaning that children born into poverty are likely to have poor children themselves. Poverty is not only a major problem in the developing world, but also in the West, with countries such as the USA having relative child poverty rates of 23. 1%2. This essay discusses the main causes of child poverty and what I believe needs to be done to combat these issues.

The main political factors that contribute to poverty are taxation and government choices. If governments make their citizens pay more tax, wealth filters down from the rich to the poor, reducing poverty. This can be seen when comparing countries like Iceland, where only 4. 7% of children are in relative poverty to countries like the USA, where 23. 1% of children are in this situation2. Citizens of Iceland pay more tax than the average US citizen, with a bigger gap between the amount of tax paid by the poor and rich.

The money from this higher taxation goes into government schemes like the NHS and housing programs meaning the poor do not have to pay for these things so they can use their money to try to achieve a better standard of living. It’s important to note that nearly all of the poverty in the developed world is what is known as relative poverty. Relative poverty is where the essentials such as shelter and food can be afforded but with little to no disposable income left over for everyday non essential things such as televisions or cars.

Absolute poverty (mainly found in undeveloped countries) is where basic human needs such as food and shelter can’t be afforded. However, high taxation isn’t going to help anyone if the government isn’t spending the money with the interests of its people in mind. In India, 75% of people earn less than ? 63 a month3. However, this same country has a space program costing ? 880,000,000 a year4. Vanity projects such as this are massively detrimental to the people trying to live in these countries.

To decrease child poverty we need to increase taxes, especially those of the wealthy, but at the same time increase personal tax free allowance. This would ensure that the poor had more money and the wealthier gave more back to society. We also need to hold countries that don’t spend their money on their people accountable because what they are doing harms millions of lives. Living in a country with a strong economy significantly lowers a person’s chance of living in poverty.

Governments of these countries have more money to spend so can put more money into helping the poor. This can be seen clearly by looking at Greece’s statistics over the past decade. Greece’s economy failed in 2008 when Wall Street crashed, and in 2009 they admitted that they’d been understating their deficit and had built up massive amounts of debt. UNICEF says that in 2009 child poverty rates in Greece were at 16%, one of the highest in the developed world2. Other sources claim that it was even higher than that and it rose from 23. 2% to 49. 3% between 2008 and 20146.

Economic failure is very difficult to reverse and it most likely that Greece will default their debt and refuse to pay because they will never reach a point where they are able to. Social issues can make it difficult for people born into poverty to leave it. Children born into poverty typically perform worse at GCSE level than their peers, achieving on average 1. 7 grades lower9. This is largely due to lack of opportunity; children living in poverty cannot afford extra tuition, and certainly not a private education. Even smaller things such as missing a school trip can be detrimental to a child’s education.

Their parents are often not in a position to help with schoolwork, sometimes because they work long hours trying to make ends meet but more often than not it is because they were in a similar position in school and struggled to reach their full potential. This creates a vicious cycle where those in poverty are unable to get well paid jobs and have children who experience exactly the same thing. To combat this, the government needs to put money into ensuring that children in living in poverty are fully supported throughout their education and are given the resources they need to reach their full potential.

Technological advancements can massively help to decrease poverty, particularly in developing countries. If we can provide those in poverty with clean water and sanitation, we can massively decrease illness and disease in these countries. If people are ill they cannot work and bring money into their family, if the key earner dies from illness, it can have catastrophic effects. Having better medical facilities will increase the chance of survival from disease. Those living in developed countries need to invest money into ensuring that those in poverty have adequate sanitation and medical resource.

Genetically modified crops are being developed that will be easier to grow in harsh conditions and that will contain more essential nutrients and vitamins. Introducing these crops into countries with high poverty rates should reduce world hunger because food is more accessible to those who it otherwise wouldn’t be able to grow their own food. It is important to note that some people have raised concerns with the safety of GM products, however I still believe that we should continue to invest in projects such as these as long as we keep safety testing a priority when developing new crops. One of the most overlooked factors of poverty is legal.

In most developing countries, although there are laws, there is little to no law enforcement. Gary Haugen, CEO of the International Justice Mission, argues that it is the biggest causes of poverty, but despite that less than 1% of all financial aid going into these countries is used to improve this issue. Everyday violence and domestic abuse causes more death and disability than malaria, car accidents and even war combined and because there is no law enforcement no one is held accountable 7. In many cases any money that comes into a household is quickly stolen by more powerful people in the neighbourhood and nothing is done about it.

You can give as much money and resources to those in poverty but threes nothing to stop someone else taking it all away again. Gary Haugen created the charity International Justice Mission in the hope that he could decrease the lawlessness in developing countries and so far it seems to be working; he says ‘In Guatemala … we’ve started a proiect there with the local police and court system, prosecutors, to retrain them so that they can actually effectively bring these cases. And we’ve seen prosecutions against perpetrators of sexual violence increase by more than 1,000 percent.

If more money is put into organistations like this we would begin to see an increase in law enforcement in these countries which clearly need it. Environmental issues can have sudden and catastrophic effects on people’s lives, plunging them into poverty and even homelessness. Natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes made 22 million people homeless in 2013, 3 times as many as the year before8. We, as humans, have no control over when and how natural disasters strike, however we can try to reduce the impact the have on people’s lives and help fund those who have lost homes or jobs as a result of these terrible events.

To me, it seems that the best way of reducing child poverty is for those who are not experiencing poverty to help those who are. They can do this by helping to pay for better education, medical facilities, sanitation, law enforcement, and protection for those who need it. We need to have compassion for those who are not as fortunate as us and we need to be willing to make sacrifices so others can live lives free from poverty. Child poverty cannot be eliminated by just a few people; our society as a whole needs to come together to stand up against it.