Effects of Poverty on Children

Name: Shem Blake Course: Child-Adolescent Development Lecturer: Mrs. Kennedy Date: February 19, 2013 Discuss how poverty affects the psychosocial, cognitive, moral and physical development of the adolescent The term poverty is usually used to simply refer to a lack of money, but living in a state of financial instability is both physically and emotionally damaging.
While an adolescent who grows up in a middle class suburb is taught that he or she can go to college, marry, have a rewarding career, and make a meaningful contribution to the world at large, a child born into poverty must struggle to simply make it to adulthood. The long term effects of poverty are why this is a social issue that deserves public attention. Poverty is one of the most devastating preventable phenomena working against the healthy development of an adolescent whom are at a very crucial stage in their growth and development.
During this developmental process they are going through, adolescents need an enhancing and stimulating environment to support their growth but if these adolescents are situated in poverty stricken environment their growth will be affected because through poverty they are deprived from needs and wants which is essential in their development and this alters their process of development as the effects of poverty may wrap, twist or arrest the process as the adolescents undergo psychosocial, cognitive, moral and physical development.

Therefore, its far-reaching effect can be devastating to the development of adolescents. Poverty has a major negative impact on adolescent’s psychosocial development. According to studies by V. C. McLoyd, “persistent exposure to poverty has a directly negative effect on a child’s health”. The more obvious explanation for the reasoning of this are that lifestyle and living conditions for those who live in poverty affect a child negatively. Environmental deprivation is usually what we consider when we think about poverty, but it is not the only factor.
Stressors such as unsafe or life-threatening living conditions and violence play a part. Among these is deprivation of other essential necessities that are needed, such as food, medicine and a safe home. Deprivation of any of these things, especially in infancy or early childhood has a marked effect on psychosocial development. As McLoyd points out, children who live in poverty are exposed to more extreme living situations than those who are not living under similar circumstances.
These conditions may have a more pronounced effect or influence on them. During adolescent there is a large degree of psychological growth as children make adjustments in their personality due to the rapid development. They face ongoing conflict and difficulty adapting to the sudden upsurge of sexual and aggressive drive. These changes cause unrest and confusion in the adolescents’ inner selves and the way they perceive the world. During this maturation they establish their own beliefs, values and what they want to accomplish out of life.
At this stage their also separating emotionally from parents while still being reliant on them but as they have to struggle with the challenges of poverty, instead of having a healthy psychosocial development they are at greater risk of behavioral and emotional problems because they do not think of things the way they should instead they get a perverted mind especially against persons who are living in a better condition from them causing them to not think normally.
Some behavioral problems may include impulsiveness, difficulty getting along with peers, aggression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder because they are in an environment which places a lot of limitations on them. Also, because of their poor status often times they are living in unsafe neighborhoods which exposes children to violence which can cause a number of psychosocial difficulties. Violence exposure can also predict future violent behavior in youth which places them at greater risk of injury and mortality and entry into the juvenile justice system.
There are different forms of poverty. When a child has been born into poverty, then poverty is seen as a fact of life which may or may not be something that can be changed. Hard work for survival is an expectation of life. The “rules” that apply differently to people who live in poverty are understood but adherence to the rules can be “conditional” when survival or basic needs are not being met. Hence, at this stage, where they are transitioning from concrete operational thinking to formal logical abstract) thinking including development in reasoning and judgment. So even though their thinking becomes multidimensional and they are better to contemplate situations their decision making remains susceptible to emotions due to their social environment restricts cognitive stimulation resulting in a lower motivation to learn because the adolescents mind is always somewhere else, they have a short attention p because their mind is always thinking about food, and cognitive developmental delays because of poor nutrition.
However, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the brain of a teenager continues to develop all the way into adulthood. The amygdala, the section of the brain that controls instincts, develops first. The frontal cortex, which is responsible for reasoning and determines how we act, develops later and continues to develop into adulthood. Because of this, a teenager is guided less by the frontal cortex and may not have a full understanding of moral behavior.
So while the development of the cognitive skills is being delayed because of poor nutrition, the development of the moral skills are more severely delayed because they take a longer time to develop because the poverty stricken environment does not stimulates and enriches the development of this growth because their judgment are not mainly on what’s right or wrong but, what’s right or wrong for their survival. In their environment they are exposed to the temptations of drug, alcohol and sex from an early point in life but because this has been a norm in their upbringing they fall to the same temptations.
Everyone knows that it is troubling having to deal with poverty, moreover, it is more troubling for adolescents because they are already going through challenges of their own adapting to a new mind and body, plus dealing with their life situations may bring them to a breaking point. Often times, their moral development is not based on what is right or wrong but the right or wrong ways of getting what they need or want, resulting in situations like gang violence, teenage prostitution and stealing causing deaths and even sexually transmitted diseases.
Their moral development is affected because they still think in an abstract way and can be more impulsive than an adult. At this stage their impulsiveness can prevent them from making decisions based on moral responsibility and they will believe no consequences will emerge from their actions. Not only does a poor nutrition and other social factors affects the adolescent in their psychsocial, moral and cognitive development but its most visible impact is on the physical development of the adolescent.
Through this time they are going through a rapid change of the body but their development is slowed down because their body lacks the right nutrients that enhance their growth. They do not eat right and are ignorant to the concept of living a healthy lifestyle so in their development, if they are not underweight; they are overweight because their diet consists of a lot of carbohydrate, a small amount of protein and a deficit in other nutrients. Soobader and Leclere (2000) has also examined the impact of poverty on the physical health status of the adolescents.
According to these authors, poverty can impact the ability of the family to receive and maintain health insurance. This specific issue can impact the overall health of the adolescence because health care is expensive and if the adolescent is fallen ill, if the ailment is not considered serious, then they will have to stay home and use home remedies only going to the doctor if it gets life threating and this is a very serious issue because the ailment could already be causing internal damage.
In low-income families, acquiring proper medical care remains a pervasive issue that has clear ramifications for the health outcomes of the child. Although Soobader and Leclere do argue that the issues facing adolescence is quite complex overall, the inability to access proper healthcare and insurance has a notable impact on the outcomes for adolescence living in poverty. “The probability of a child being uninsured was associated with higher levels of income inequality at the county level and higher levels of poverty at the neighborhood level.
Therefore, the deteriorating physical environment and the lack of social services compounds individual disadvantage” (p. 230). When poverty is a lifelong proposition for adolescents, it does not mean that an adolescence will develop into a lesser form of a human being when they reach adulthood. In fact, honor, values, beliefs, community structure can produce well form individuals under conditions most of us would consider horrific. But the lack of food, medical care, and other horrific social conditions may cause lifelong psychosocial, cognitive, moral and physical impairments for the adolescents.
Without a solid community or family structure, the overall lack of basic subsistence will cause preventable and inexcusable deaths that can give an adolescent a warped view of the value of life. Referencing Books. Mueller, M. , & Patton, M. (1995). Working with poor families, lessons learned from practice. Marriage andFamily Review, 21 (1/2), 65-90. Center for Adolescent Health and Law (1999, December). Adolescents in public health insurance programs, Chase-Lansdale, P. L. , and Brooks-Gunn, J. , eds. Escape from poverty: What makes a difference for children? New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995

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