Will your youth group help children in poverty?

Image: Will your youth group help children in poverty?

Childhood should be fun, but for many kids it's a struggle that affects their whole life.

Living in poverty as a child

"“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.” (Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind).

What was life like when you were growing up?

For many of us, being a child was just a whole lot of fun. We were looked after by our parents, we didn't have to cook our own food, we had fun at school, and on the weekends, we would spend hours just playing and dreaming. Of course, we all had our difficulties and troubles, but in general, most of us felt safe and secure, and we didn't have much to worry about.

For children who live in poverty, life can be quite the opposite.

At a time when life is meant to be about having fun, playing, learning at school, and forming life-long friendships, some young children are struggling with poverty & suffering. They are living in terrible conditions, and will never experience the care-free childhood we often take for granted.

It's not just a problem that is limited to poorer countries. In places like Australia, the UK, or USA, there are plenty of families who can't even afford the basics of life. Whilst the parents work their hardest to provide all the needs for their children, sometimes they just can't make ends meet. The effect on their children can be devastating, not just because their childhood is impacted, but their adult life will be harder too.

How childhood poverty affects you as you get older

According to local and international research, there are a number of problems these kids will face in the future, because they are growing up in families who live in poverty:

EDUCATIONAL IMPACTS

It is well established that children growing up experiencing poverty and multiple disadvantage are more likely to experience lower levels of educational attainment when compared with their more advantaged peers. (1)

MENTAL HEALTH

Mental health issues for children often present as challenging behaviour and emotional instability. These issues can lead to more mental health complications in adult life.

FUTURE ECONOMIC TROUBLES

Children growing up in a low-income and/or jobless household are more likely to be unemployed, working in low or unskilled jobs and to be poorly paid when they become adults. (2)

HEALTH PROBLEMS

Some families can't afford to give kids 3 meals a day. This means children are malnourished, and don't grow as they should. Even before a child is born, if their mother is not getting the right amount of food, the child is affected in the womb. This can impact the child's brain development and reduce their abilities.

FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

Living on a low income can make good family functioning more difficult, which may impact on the quality of parent-child relationship. This can sometimes be seen in problems in family relationships, including assault and domestic violence. (3)

How can we help?

This year, Fervr is partnering with Anglicare to help raise awareness of poverty, particularly amongst children. We’re encouraging youth groups in Sydney to dedicate ONE Friday night to LEARNING, THINKING and PRAYING for young people who are growing up in poverty.

To find out more & register your youth group, go to http://lightupthestreet.com.au

If you would like to do more research on this issue, we recommend you visit http://www.stateofsydney.org.au

References:

1. (Smith et al., 1997; Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000; Bradshaw, 2002; Strelitz & Lister, 2008).
2. (Haveman & Wolfe, 1995; Wagmiller et al., 2006; Blanden & Gibbons, 2006; Dowling et al., 2003, Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, 1997).
3. (Hirsch, 2005; Russell et al., 2008).

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