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Poverty and Child Development

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From the very second I was born, until this very day, I had understood life to be a certain way. Life had taken its course and my family, as well as myself, have suffered ups and downs. We've been through times which were good and which were the worst of the worst - all families do. What I didn't know is that regardless of the good and the bad, that the life I lived was sheltered to the point where I couldn't fathom the idea that all people had not lived a life similar to ours. Sure, I understand that some were more fortunate and some were less fortunate, but to which extent? Within my circle of influence, our friends and family, there was a certain level at which we enjoyed our lives in a comfortable sense. We'd occasionally see a homeless person on the subway or in the city, but I never knew that there was a whole class of people in between. I've always heard of poverty and didn't know much more about it except for the fact that people existed that were less fortunate, those who lived in this supposed poverty.

Jonathan Kozol's book "Amazing Grace" depicts the issues that face families who are living in a world of poverty, homelessness and in a world where less fortunate is an understatement. Kozol writes about his experience in the South Bronx where he comes across some of the most disturbing facts about our fellow human beings. He speaks of families who live in an undernourished, impoverished society where a great majority of the inhabitants have been faced with disease. He visited a building in which one particular family has contracted the HIV virus. A woman contracted AIDS from her husband who she thought was faithful. Her daughter later contracted the deadly virus when she was raped by the father. In fact, in his conversation with a nurse who takes care of Alice Washington, a woman that Kozol interviews, in this building there are "Including the children, maybe 27 people" (Kozol p. 13, in Amazing Grace) She continues to say "There's lots of other people have it but don't know." People are so under-educated and under-privileged in the society where they live, that they are afraid to even find out if they have contracted the disease. This brings us to another problem that the families here are faced with, deprivation of help from the government.

Although Jonathan Kozol implies that there may be an effort on the part of the government and other public entities to overlook issues faced by these unfortunate people, but my personal belief is that regardless of the inability to gain public aid, which they should receive as entitled to it, but rather, they should get up and go work. It is very true that although some families are born into poverty, other have fallen into this classification due to various circumstances they endured during the course of life's twists and turns. According to a conservative remark by Thomas J. Surgrue as noted in "American Families" by Stephanie Coontz, "the wages of two underemployed workers barely pull families above the poverty line" (Surgrue, p. 245 Coontz). With this in mind, it makes us wonder if there is any hope to rely on for those who live in this area, whether it's two underemployed parents or just a single mother or father. There is barely a difference between those who are suffering because they are unemployed and so it seems that's it even worse for those who are working two dead end jobs and still not breaching the poverty line. Jonathan Kozol speaks of a local high school in the South Bronx when he says that "Morris High School is, after all, one of the most beleaguered, segregated, and decrepit secondary schools in United states"(Kozol). I understand the argument that they are uneducated and do not have a great ability to apply for numerous jobs, but what I don't understand is if they even find a minimum wage job, they are better off that where they are currently. In addition, there are numerous programs which allow people to get a GED at no charge and definitely programs which provide financial aid to those who qualify to attend college, I highly doubt these people don't qualify. So if they are set on not working, they should at least take advantage of the free education that we have in this great country so that eventually, they can go out and work to find a better life for themselves and their families. In reporting on this matter, Jonathon Kozol has employed a liberal framework. He is basically reporting is as he sees without much criticism of his own.

Kozol talks about how children are raised in the Bronx and what is life like it for them. Many families in the Bronx are suffering they don't have real jobs to support them selves namely Puerto Ricans. He mentions "depression is common among children in Mott Haven" (Kozol, p. 4). You normally don't expect to hear things like that. Children living in poverty don't get to enjoy life the way children should. Instead they mature too quickly and their childhood just passes them by so fast that there are no happy memories to remember.

In her book "Keeping Women and Children Last," Ruth Sidel explains about how the concept of poverty is treated as wolves which were bread in captivity. She explains that this dehumanizing defamation of the character of these suffering individuals, "in the words of one observer, it 'shatters the capacity for empathy,' on the part of the majority towards the denigrated group" (Sidel, p.8 in Keeping Women and Children Last). Perhaps this is the whole purpose of the way this issue is approached by those in congress who are regardless of any decision they make going to receive a pension of $15,000 monthly for the remainder of their lives. What they



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