Psychiatric and pediatric researchers have been arguing for some time now that poverty has a variety of negative impacts on children. Now, a study published in JAMA Pediatrics in July brings those arguments into greater focus. According to the study, and an accompanying editorial, living in poverty can have serious effects on the development of children’s brains.
Children living in poverty, which includes about 22% of all American children, can face lifelong learning disabilities, limitations on their ability to cope with stress, and depression. Developmental lags in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain can result in a 20% gap in educational achievement, most often seen in lower test scores.
The good news, though, is that these problems can be mitigated, somewhat, by nurturing parents. Parents who are taught nurturing skills, especially those who live below the poverty line, can help to offset the problems that their children will face. But those problems can’t be done away with through nurturing.
22% of American children grow up in poverty, in what is probably the most affluent nation in the world, and that’s frankly disgusting. What’s worse, is that as those children lag behind their wealthier peers, they’re going to have a harder time in school, they will be less likely to go to college, and more likely to end up with lower paying jobs. The negative effects of poverty make it harder to escape poverty. And when those children grow up and have kids of their own? Their kids grow up in poverty as well.
When you’re looking for a charity to help out, consider those that are focused on alleviating or eradicating poverty. Look for charities that help homeless people, or underprivileged families. Look for non-profits who put their donations to use helping to build and support schools, or to help feed hungry children and their families. Help those groups that advocate for political change to help people who are struggling to make ends meet. Helping poor children can help their children, and their children’s children.