Poverty: A Child’s Fault

“I provide for my kids. Why can’t they?”
“You keep having babies and I have to pay for them.”
“Just get a job!”

These are the classic refrains we sometimes hear from friends, acquaintances, and family members when we bring up the issues pertaining to child poverty in the United States. It seems that despite the severity of the issue, people feel a resistance to providing help and support to children living in poverty. Whether or not this resistance comes as a way to judge or punish what they believe to be a fiscally “irresponsible” adult, or if it serves as a means of avoiding taking the time to donate, these ways of thinking have a vastly negative effect on children currently living in poverty.

When confronted with questionable resistance in aiding children in poverty, we must remember that these children did not choose their circumstance. These children could not have played a role in choosing their circumstances, and so we must remember that they do not deserve to suffer as a result. In the same sense, we could not have directed our fate when being blessed with families that could provide for our basic childhood needs, just as impoverished children have no agency in altering their current situations.

You might say, “But their parents and guardians spend money on frivolous expenses instead of buying winter clothing for their children. I would never spend my money that way.” While we could debate that point in Facebook comments and letters to the editor until the Internet ceases to exist, the fact remains that these children are not in control of the family finances. The most reasonable approach to thinking about these children is understanding that they should not be punished or deprived for the perceived mistakes of their guardians. The situations that these children live in are solely caused by those who watch over them; they are entirely subjected to the decisions made by others. By coming together and helping to aid these children in ways their guardians cannot, we can at least make the decision to provide a warm winter coat – that is a choice we can control for them.

For our communities and society as a whole to flourish, we must invest in our youth. We often say “It takes a village to raise a child,” as this saying has never been more true than in today’s world. By providing basic needs for children in poverty, you give them the opportunity to attend school with a warm coat and a full stomach. This will affect not only their well-being into the future, but that of our communities as a whole as we prepare new generations of children who will grow up to meet the challenges of a growing and globalized world.

By assisting the less fortunate children in our communities, we are sending a distinctive message. We are telling them that they are loved, that they are important, and that they are worthy. By failing to reach out, we are telling them that we don’t believe in their potential to be a participant in the world we are building for them. So ask yourself: what kind of message do you want to send to the future of America?

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