Although this site has more to do with child safety, there is certainly a cross-interest within the well being of children in general, and therefore we though this is extremely important, and more so considering the published statistics.
Living in poverty detrimentally affects those all exposed, regardless of whether we are referring to a child or an adult. What is really, and truly shocking is that 22% of children in the United States live in poverty [2013 data]. (http://www.aecf.org/)
Common sense dictates that although children living in poverty may be exposed to potential nutritional or malnutritional issues, not to mention to the ‘going without’ factor, but as provided by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, linked above, this figure remains unacceptably high Despite, what Time published as “Five years of fitful economic recovery [within the US] have not yet bettered this situation.”
Besides some of the known, published and accepted effects that have been directly attributed to or linked to poverty, a study published on JAMA Pediatrics provides the following:
…. these findings now elucidate a clear and coherent risk trajectory in which caregiving nurturance mediates the development of key brain regions in the context of poverty and that the development of these brain structures mediates academic outcomes. This line of evidence demonstrates that enhancing parental support during early childhood is a critical and specific intervention target for more effective prevention of poor cognitive and academic outcomes for children living in extreme poverty. The importance of such neuroscience-informed interventions has been emphasized by investigators in this field.
This taken together with the fact that a child experiences significant brain development throughout childhood and adolescence is a serious cause for alarm!
Supporting the issue of brain development, Harvard University’s “The Science of Early Childhood Development” provides that “In early childhood, research on the biology of stress shows how major adversity, such as extreme poverty, abuse, or neglect can weaken developing brain architecture and permanently set the body’s stress response system on high alert”. And by providing stability and nurturing relationships within the early years of a child’s life “can prevent or even reverse the damaging effects of early life stress,
with lifelong benefits for learning, behavior, and health”. One of the key issues in the aforementioned is the “lifelong benefits”, and unchecked (meaning what they term as ‘Toxic Stress’) can result in serious adverse effects later in life, as per the excerpt below:
Significant early adversity can lead to lifelong problems. Toxic stress experienced early in life and common precipitants of toxic stress—such as poverty, abuse or neglect, parental substance abuse or mental illness, and exposure to violence—can have a cumulative toll on an individual’s physical and mental health. The more adverse experiences in childhood, the greater the likelihood of developmental delays and other problems. Adults with more adverse experiences in early childhood are also more likely to have health problems, including alcoholism, depression, heart disease, and diabetes. Source
These scientifically based facts and publications serve to highlight the fact that children within and exposed to the consistent effects of poverty may well suffer adversely throughout their entire lives. The statistics argue that more needs to be done especially in helping children living in poverty!