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  1. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Childhood Poverty: The Unspoken Issue

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Duchess-Yukine-Suoh, Jan 5, 2014.

    There are 2.2 billion children in the world. One billion of them live in poverty.
    One out of every three children does not have adequate shelter.
    32.5% of children are malnourished.
    One out of every four children does not have access to water.
    One out of every seven children does not have access to basic sanitation.
    Only 58% of children have graduated Elementary school.
    22,000 children die each day from poverty-related causes. That's 8 million and 30 thousand a year.

    There. Those are some nice facts to brighten your day.

    This might just be me, but I somehow think that the death of over 8 million children per year is more important than anything Phil Robertson has to say for himself. But childhood poverty, even poverty in general, is very underrepresented.

    What these kids go through is really terrible. We're writers, here, so we should all have good imaginations. Imagine not eating for a day or two or just eating out of the trash because you're that hungry. Imagine not having any clean water. Imagine having never tasted milk. Imagine sleeping in the subway or on the streets, or, if you're lucky, living in what is essentially a leaky cardboard box. Forget about having a pillow or blanket, let alone a bed. Imagine not being able to read a book, for that matter, even your own name. Imagine having never been to school. Imagine caring for your siblings all day, every day, in these conditions, or working 12 hours every day in a factory, or dumpster diving, or running a trash cart, all at a very young age. Imagine not having any future beyond this.

    That's not a dystopian universe. That's reality for far too many kids. It could all be fixed too.

    Discuss.

    (PS: I am sorry if this sounds PSA-ish. It's late and I'm tired, but I wanted to write this.)

    ~Duchess
     
  2. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Could you provide the statistics for just the U.S, please?
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Sadly, I don't think this problem is ever going to go away. Poverty is always going to exist for a variety of reasons. In countries like China and India, you have a large population and a very unfair distribution of wealth. In countries like North Korea, you have governments that withhold resources from its people. In some of the African countries, you have war. There's also the human mentality of "It's their problem and it doesn't affect me, so why should I worry about it?"

    That being said, I do think we should make an effort to end poverty, even if it is an impossible task. Helping even a fraction of the people living in poverty would make a huge difference.
     
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  4. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    OK.

    22% of all U.S. children live in poverty.
    20% of all U.S. household with children are food insecure. That's 15.9 million children.
    74% of food pantries, 65% of food kitchens, and 54% of shelters have reported an increase in the number of people who come to their programs.

    In my opinion, the most terrible effect of this childhood poverty is the children who live as migrant farm workers. The company homes they live in look something akin to this:
    [​IMG]
    (I'm sorry that it's so big.)

    It's a one room shack that "holds" between 8 and 14 people. Children grow up in this, in America. In the U.S., you may legally start working in agriculture at age 12, and for migrant children especially, there are very few limitations. However, children usually start working at the age of 8. Extra hands are needed to make a living, and there's few, if any, options for child care. Children as young as 3 work in these fields, because the choice is "the car or the field". Each year, about 300,000 children work as a migrant farm worker. Injuries run rampant, and no one can pay for them. 100,000 children are injured every year from working as a migrant farm worker, and 52% of all these children have a medical need unmet. Due to constant moving, migrant children are 2.5 times more likely to drop out of school. The average drop-out grade is 7th grade. Only 13% of migrant children graduate high school.

    Keep in mind, this is America. And not even the south, a good amount of these children live on the West Coast.
     
  5. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    I think so too! :) The majority of people, especially children, usually help themselves on the path to a sustainable income once you get the ball rolling. The WFP (world food program) thinks that we can half hunger before 2020, if everyone pitches in. I doubt that it will happen that quickly, but I'd like to see the poverty rate significantly reduced sometime in my life. I'm 13, so we have a while....
     
  6. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    And it's all done to feed the machine, to fuel the rat race. Acts like feeding these people are great, but they're only a band-aid covering a pus filled boil. It doesn't take much to give, to share. We have got to learn how put ourselves second or third every now and then.

    I know as individuals, we are not all guilty, but as a society, we are.
     
  7. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    This is very true. Sometimes straight out food is necessary, but you can't do that forever, and why would you, when you can give someone a sustainable source of income? For less than $100, you could give someone a flock of chicks or sewing supplies.
     
  8. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is a terrible problem, and is largely due to overpopulation. It will get worse and worse until billions of people eventually starve to death or die from disease. We're on the way to 9 billion people well before the end of this century and with the resources we have and the way we want to live -- that is, to give everyone at least a minimum standard that we enjoy in more industrialized countries (i.e. allowing for airline travel, other motorized transportation, computers, etc.) the earth can only handle about 3 billion. Eventually, something's going to give.
     
  9. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I think with problems like this is that it's hard to put a really human face on such things. People's reactions to statistics always reminds me of when my dad would read The Guardian back in the early 90s, and read the lists of British troops killed or wounded serving in Northern Ireland. It's the same sort of dispassionate glace, and meaningless comments about 'how terrible it all is'. And it's sad, people don't need to 'wake up' to the problem, everyone knows about it - and that it's a problem, what they need is to care about the problem. Then good things can start happening.
     
  10. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    But the question is: how do we get them to care? I'm writing a story about migrant children.
     
  11. TessaT
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    TessaT Contributing Member

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    While this is terrible, is there anything that can actually be done to fix the system?

    This is a list of the top 50 charities in the U.S. http://www.forbes.com/top-charities/list/
    They have MILLIONS of dollars, and still the problem persists.

    Instead of trying to put band-aids on a gaping, hemorrhaging wound, we need to figure out what surgery can be done to help fix it. And I don't have an answer for this. Creating more jobs, trying to close the poverty-wealthy gap... how do we create a better economy that will actually support the people that we have?

    Also, I think that something needs to be done about the U.S. Agriculture and it's laws. 12 year olds should not be allowed to work, period. But there's so much money being pushed into NOT getting these laws brought up, that I'm not sure it can be changed.
     
  12. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Like everything in today's saccharine, over-saturated culture, it would likely need a really powerful image to get people's attention.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Which is, of course, how we got to the over-saturated culture we have now. :)
     
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  14. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Sadly true. But it's the only way to get people motivated. It seems sometimes like you need to be really forceful with bad news to just get a reaction. :p
     
  15. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    It's a disease as old as the first, cave-dwelling Hatfields and McCoys. Greed and Competition drive us into these situations where we allow kids to break their backs for our lives. Surely*, people can't be so naive to not know about sweat shops and the cruel environments of migrant laborers.

    The real question is why we ever let this happen in the first place. When did we decide it was ok to let children work under these conditions? Of course there are plenty of theories out there that the most successful and shrewd business men are sociopaths, but you almost need to be a psychopath to keep killing children in your attempt to be the fastest and cheapest.

    *and I didn't call you Shirley
     
  16. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    Poverty can't be strictly defined with economic markers. I am not trying to allay the severity of the problem, just say that there are lots of grey areas and smudges in the analysis of poverty. As is the case with much of our world, too much of the caring for the poverty stricken has been outsourced to private concerns. When a CEO for the Red Cross makes $650,000 or the UNICEF CEO makes $1,200,000 both of which go on about how donating just a dollar or two a week can feed a hungry child, then I think that poverty is a business, and as such, rather than trying to eradicate it, and interests of business being what they are, the big players may not actively seek to expand their business base but they won't try that hard to alliviate it either. There are tons of NGOs and small groups doing very good work around the world on a shoe string of a budget but the big money charities are a travesty to everything they stand for.
     
  17. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Because people will do anything they can to earn a quick buck.....

    I have lots of favorite charities, but one of my favorites is the Cambodian Children's Fund, because it's large enough to make an impact, but not run by corrupt leaders trying to make money, it's actually about the children. Another one is Orphans Rising, as it's run by a couple of nuns and college students, but what they do is amazing for their resources (or more accurately, lack thereof).

    And there's lots of smaller charities that do a lot too, in America.
     
  18. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    In the US, isn't it considered poverty if you only have basic cable and your data plan on your iPhone is only 2 Gigs?
     
  19. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    You have to be a bit careful when donating to charities because sometimes only a small percentage of donations will go towards the actual cause. A good place to research charities is either Give Well or Charity Watch.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as a practicing philosopher, i have been studying the history and current state of the human race for longer than most of you here have been alive and have come to the following sad conclusion:

    that the vast majority of the 'haves' will ignore [or see/make use of, but not be bothered by] the existence of the 'have-nots' is simply a basic aspect of human behavior... just as is the propensity and appetite for committing and witnessing acts of violence...

    you'd have to change humans' genetic structure, if you want to improve how they act toward each other and their fellow members of the animal kingdom, along with how they treat their habitat...
     
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  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    One partial solution would be to start paying people a fair wage. That, of course, would mean paying more for the products and services provided by those people. I don't know how many of us would pay more for products, but I, for one, would, *if* I had a way of knowing that my "pay more" was going to better wages, better safety conditions, and so on.

    But I really don't have a way to know that, in most cases. I'd love to see a certifying authority or a group of them, like the certifying authorities for organic products, and the approval process for kosher products. I already pay a huge premium for organics, for much of the food that I eat. I pay attention to what foods have a fair trade option. I'd do that for clothes.

    I already do it for some of my clothes--I buy shirts that are actually sewn by the woman who sells them at the crafter's market, I'm about to have some clothes made by a local seamstress, and I buy some others made by what I *think* is a small company, but I have no real way of knowing that it's not owned by a big company that farms the sewing out to child labor. Those shirts cost three times what I'd pay from a department store and probably five to ten times what I'd pay from a discount store. I buy them from a local independent store, they're more interesting and less cookie-cutter than the cheaper ones, and if I knew that they were also "fair wage" I'd be *happy* to pay that premium. But I don't know. The only good that I know I'm doing is supporting that local independent store.

    (If you're going to ask what the poor should buy--we're in no danger of cheap clothes and products going away. I think that we can worry about that if that time ever comes.)

    I'd also like to see a certifying authority that let us know which business pay above minimum wage, provide benefits, and so on. I'd pay substantially more for my baked goods and my coffee (OK, in my case it's hot chocolate) and even my groceries, if I knew they came from that sort of business.

    People are prepared to pay a premium for brand names, for cool factor, and so on. I think that making fair employment a "cool" attribute of a business would attract some of those premium-price customers. (Of course, no, I don't know how we do that.)

    I'd like to see us doing something about housing--shouldn't there be a grant or loan program to help people overcome that immense first/last/damage-deposit hump?

    No, that wouldn't fix it all. But it would increase awareness, and it would create some decent jobs.

    And, of course, increasing minimum wages, consistently and steadily, would help. And in the US, so will health care reform--we'll no longer be in a situation where poor families have to go into the spiral of credit card debt, payday loans, etc., just because a kid got the flu. It might be possible to actually keep one's tiny savings. And people with illnesses that can be controlled with treatment could keep working.

    And so on. There's no giant solution, but I can see a thousand little changes we could be making.
     
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  22. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    So to sum it all up, the answer is to just give the poor people money, then they won't be poor anymore. Hell, if being poor meant getting handed everything, where do I sign up?

    Oh, and do you know why your organic veggies cost more? Because they are more expensive to make. Do you know why that hand-sewn shirt cost more? Because it takes longer to make.

    But are minimum wage workers worth more than minimum wage? No. They are worth whatever the market will allow, and unfortunately, they are being grossly overpaid as it is.
     
  23. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, I agree -- certified fair trade is a really important thing for me, but unfortunately, it's hard to come by and not available for many products. It is so hard to avoid the mass produced products that are produced by exploitive labor practices. The sad thing is, the increased cost to the consumer wouldn't really be that much. Most of the cost savings generated by these cost-cutting manufacturing processes go into the hands of the top shareholders and CEOs.
     
  24. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yep; when I talk about paying multiples of the cost of the product, I'm talking about finding products made by people earning a first-world skilled-labor wage plus benefits. I suspect that the wages of third-world garment workers could be doubled/tripled/etc. without that increase producing a meaningful increase in the price of the product. Edited to add: And if I could just look for a fair-wage tag, I would be *ever* so happy to preferentially buy those products. The products without it simply wouldn't exist for me.
     
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  25. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree. What I really believe is this: Anyone, anywhere in the world, who works at a job for 60 hours or so per week, should be able to afford to feed, clothe and educate his or her children, and provide them safe shelter. They should be able to provide at least a minimum level of healthcare so that the children do not die of preventable diseases and can be cured of easily curable ailments. The food should be sufficient to provide nutrients for the children to grow and not suffer from malnutrition. This amount of money could be calculated for various regions to account for the typical number of children/family size and the cost of these goods. Whether these things are provided by the government or by private entities (that is, the healthcare, education, food, etc) doesn't matter -- what does matter is that the families have them.

    Also, there should be requirements that the workers are not put in danger or made sick by their work, (For example, there should be ample fire exits, and agricultural workers should not be sprayed with carcinogens.) and companies should not be allowed to dump pollutants into the groundwater or into waterways.

    Sadly, this is not even true for many people who work in the United States.

    I wish there was some way - - whether by enforceable treaties, requirements backed by inspections to insure compliance, or third party certifying agencies, that we could be sure that companies complied with these standards.
     
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