UNICEF’s Director of Programs, Sanjay Wijesekera, reported in 2020 that an alarming 1 in 6 children lived in poverty worldwide. It was also expected that the effects of the pandemic would have a significant impact on the lives of many more kids. As a response, governments must develop a comprehensive recovery plan for children. In this article, we’ll discuss ways poverty negatively affects kids.

1. Harms The Brains and Body

The way that developmental scientists understand poverty has changed significantly over the years. Kids living in poverty are less able to meet their basic needs and more likely to develop problems with their bodies and minds. In addition, experiencing poverty can affect their brain development, leading to various chronic illnesses later in life.

2. Widens Achievement Gaps

Kids living in poverty are more likely to fall behind than their more secure peers. The gaps in their knowledge, social-emotional skills, and learning abilities are evident early on. When left unrepaired, these issues become progressively worse. Kids living in poverty often lag behind their peers in reading ability, self-monitoring skills, and attendance in school. They’re also more prone to dropping out of and failing high school.

3. Creates Poor Physical, Emotional, and Behavioural Health

Although not directly related to human biological systems, growing up in poverty can harm a child’s health, including behavioural and emotional issues. The effects of poverty can be seen in multiple ways, and it exposes children to threats that can affect their well-being. They are also more likely to experience food insecurity and diets deficient in essential nutrients. They’re also more prone to suffering from chronic illnesses such as asthma.

4. Living In Concentrated Poor Areas Creates Social Ills

Although it’s challenging to link poverty and children’s outcomes directly, it has been known that growing up in areas with a high concentration of poverty can have detrimental effects. These include poor academic performance and more behavioural and social concerns. 

Kids living in poverty are also more likely to live in areas with a high concentration of violence and environmental toxins. Merely hearing or witnessing this violence makes children more prone to experiencing adverse developmental effects. 

Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are likelier to attend schools within districts with inadequate resources. They also tend to be in establishments with transient school leaders and insufficient facilities.

As the world continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, governments must put an increased focus on action plans focused on supporting children in poverty.