Someone doesn’t know how damaging poverty is until they have personally felt its effects. Struggling to pay bills and provide enough food puts pressure on millions of families each year. It is a symptom that can be a direct result of the skyrocketing number of foreclosures and job layoffs. It could be a result of years of struggling to make an adequate income when illness strikes. No matter the circumstance, the lack of healthy food and proper nutrition can have lifelong impacts.
If a family struggles and there isn’t access to food, medicine, and other necessities during pregnancy, a fetus doesn’t thrive and could be born at a low birth weight. As a child grows into the infant stage, they may suffer from delayed growth and experience frequent sickness. Stunted physical and mental development may occur during the toddler years. School-aged children can face learning difficulties or may even find themselves unable to attend school. The effects of poverty can follow a child into adulthood, leading to chronic illness and lack of education or the ability to work.
The effects of poverty are more than just missing a meal. Families struggle with chronic food insecurity, hunger, and malnutrition. When families don’t have the food, their health and livelihood suffers, trapping them in a vicious cycle that affects one generation after another. The only way to combat the problem is to break the cycle of poverty and build strong communities. This enables every person to have enough nutritious food to live a healthy and productive life.
There is also a wide range of negative psychological effects caused by poverty. Children are at a greater risk of behavioral and emotional problems, which could include impulsiveness, difficulty getting along with peers, aggression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and conduct disorder. There may also be intense feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Parents may face chronic symptoms from the effects of poverty like stress and depression. Married couples may also feel marital distress and exhibit tougher parenting behaviors.
To understand the psychological effects of poverty and read more about how poverty can affect people, visit The Borgen Project.