Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Voice of the Silenced| The Children of Poverty

The poor in America are the silent majority, no sponsors, no lobbyist, no big money promoting them, they suffer silently and alone, in some of the worst conditions imaginable. Those that suffer the worse are the children growing up in poverty, they did not ask for the poverty they were born into it. 
An estimated 13.4-16.5 million children are living in poverty according to the US Census Bureaus 2011 report and percentage of 21.63% of the population. Only 3 other countries in the developed world have a higher child poverty, they are Mexico (25.79), Chile (23.95), and Turkey (23.46). The longer a child lives in poverty, the tougher it can be for them to climb out later in life. According to an analysis by Columbia University’s National Center for Children in Poverty, 45 percent of people who spent at least half of their childhood in poverty were poor at age 35. Among those who spent less than half of their childhood in poverty, just 8 percent were poor at age 35. 
These numbers are unacceptable for the world's largest economy or for any economy for that matter. Children are our future, they are a blessing and deserve a fair start and a fair shot at opportunities. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia have poverty rates higher than the national average of 15 percent, with the majority of the nation’s poor situated in the south. With a rate of 22.6 percent, Mississippi had the highest proportion of residents below the poverty line. Overwhelmingly, children suffer more than any other age group during this recession and slow recovery 
Among racial groups, Black children are more likely to live in poverty than children of any other race. The poverty rate among black children is 38.2 percent , more than twice as high as the rate among whites. The poverty rate for Hispanic children is 32.3 percent. While this shows to illustrate and break down the poverty rate along racial lines, any child living under the scrounge of poverty should not have to. The Census Bureau’s official figures fail to paint a complete picture, though. The formula the government uses to calculate the poverty rate was designed in the 1960s and does not account for expenses that are necessary to even hold a job — such as transportation costs and child care. Nor does the formula account for government programs for the needy, such as food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit. 
These facts and figures coupled with what we as regular Americans see daily, highlight the toll unemployment and poverty have taken on young people and young families with children in the past decade, and the long-term effects this economic crisis will have on America’s future workforce and its economic prosperity. Young families with children have been hit the hardest in what has been called “The Lost Decade” with close to two out of three families living in poverty. Deteriorating earnings for young adults since 1979 have affected their ability to form independent households, reduced marriage rates and increased the share of college graduates living at home. Nearly two million jobs have disappeared from the economy and rampant unemployment, hidden unemployment and mal-employment have affected the earnings of all young workers. This emerging national crisis has long-term social and economic consequences for the nation. 
Cutting children from the budget now will cost us later. This campaign is about bringing the real dangers of cutting child investments into sharp focus to build the public will and make the economic case to protect children from budget cuts. It’s a simple calculation, really. Protect now or pay later. 

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