The Throes of Poverty
Published: June 26, 2011 at 7:13 pm
When I posted an article in the family section of Technorati earlier this week titled, Eight Reasons America is Losing the War on Poverty, followers of my personal blog jammed my inbox with comments.
One comment in particular caught MY attention:
"I could become addicted to your thoughts. At last, some sanity.As a retired educator that taught mainly children or young adults that lived in the throes of poverty, crime, and drugs, I came to the same conclusions. Hurray for you!”
I appreciated the spirited support by a teacher who spent her entire career teaching children in poverty, but I couldn’t help but notice that she used the phrase "throes of poverty" in her comment. The term “throes” refers to the hurt and suffering.
But that phrase has a special meaning for children who are born into poverty, and especailly for those who remain stuck in poverty throughout their childhood and adolescent years. I decided to write this article on behalf of those children who suffer in the throes of poverty and as a dedication to the teacher who spent her lifetime trying to help them.
There is nothing good about poverty. It can steal your life away. It isolates you, degrades your sense of self-worth, and renders you a third-class citizen; it leaves you feeling incomplete, and threatens your very survival. Consider exactly what it means to live in the throes of poverty:
1. A child living in poverty is often isolated, impaired and undermined by their surroundings.
2. Persistent adversity assaults them from their earliest memories, continuously reinforcing its destructive impact upon life at home, in their neighborhood, and at school.
3. They were born into an environment of crisis and stress, yet additional stress is heaped them as they grow older.
4. One or both of their parents displays violent and/or criminal behavior.
5. One or both of their parents is an alcoholic or drug addict making steady employment unlikely.
6. Their parents are too drained to provide consistent nourishment, structure and stimulation of the type that prepares other children for school and for life. Therefore their chances of escaping the only life they know are slim.
7. Their older siblings experience failure as soon as they enter the world outside the family and rapidly come to the conclusion the future holds little promise.
8. Consistent failure among siblings and other family members convinces them that they are also born to fail.
9. Failure is compounded and reinforced by not learning the social and language skills necessary to merge into mainstream society.
10. The child sees that other families live differently and have a stable family life, while their world remains bleak.
11. The child has no reason to believe that anything worthwhile will be lost by dropping out of school, committing crimes, or having babies as unmarried teenagers.
12. They lack the hope, dreams and a stake in the future that other children take for granted.
13. A culture of poverty leaves them lacking in coping skills to deal with adversity.
14. As they grow older and encounter rejection, they will seek comfort in the only life they know—they return to the culture of poverty.