I just read a great op-ed by Paul Krugman about the ways that living in poverty hinders the development of children.
He reported that the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that “many children growing up in very poor families with low social status experience unhealthy levels of stress hormones, which impair their neural development.” That leads to impaired language development and memory, which in turn helps destine many of the children to a life of poverty.
Beyond the biological impairments, we all know that poor children do not get a fair shot at success. They get sent to substandard schools. They cannot afford quality education. They do not have powerful connections. They do not have families that can support them in their times of need, but instead they have families that they need to support.
Approximately 50% of children born into poverty in the United States do not escape. Most of the others struggle their entire lives. We call this the poverty trap, referring to the fact that children born into poverty have significantly limited opportunities in their life. Like seeds planted in infertile soil, poor children have potential but not fair opportunity.
This must greatly shame any societies and nations that let their children grow up in poverty.
The United States has the highest child poverty rate in the developed world. Officially, about 13 million American children live in poverty in the United States. Even worse, many more children do not have healthcare coverage or adequate education.
We have to do something about this. A society will not survive if it allows this type of horror to continue. I think the government has shown that it will not solve major problems such as child poverty, despite the trillions of dollars it spends every year on other things. So I think we the people need to work together to find non-governmental solutions to poverty. Whatever we do, we have to do something.