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Born in the Lower Class: A Destiny Set in Stone

How a lower class upbringing limits a child's opportunities for life

A poor, lower class parent and child wearing dirty and damaged clothing, whilst walking down the road towards a forest. The young boy is looking up at their parent hopefully. The parent is carrying pans and other equipment necessary for survival.

What causes child poverty + how can you help?

During 2020 - 2021, around 13.4 million UK residents lived in poverty, including 3.9 million children, a number that continues to increase rapidly with the the cost of living crisis that remains ever-present.

"The cost of living crisis will worsen poverty rates, with more than one million people expected to be plunged into poverty this winter" - The Big Issue, January 26th 2023

Thus, on a day-to-day basis, their becomes an ever more vital need for the public and governing body of the UK to take action in pursuit of mitigating the root causes of child poverty; factors such as soaring rent costs, insecure and low paying job roles and lack of well-paying employment opportunities being just a namely few.

To help tackle these root causes, it is integral that members of the UK public exert pressure on our governing body to prioritise the issue of child poverty to a further extent and fund projects aimed towards reducing the impact poverty has on our future generation. Additionally, you can donate to charitable organisations such as 'Save The Children' and 'Nesta'.

How does poverty affects children's health?

Childhood is arguably the most important stage of human life, as the accumulation of our experiences during this period forms the building blocks for our personality, characteristics and mannerisms, our interests and our psychical, cognitive and emotional skills and capabilities. Therefore, it is absolutely integral that every child in the UK is provided with a stable household, caring relationships and stimulating experiences which they require as a foundation to stimulate their growth and development, however children brought up in a lower or working class household are often deprived of one or more of these factors.

"Poverty puts an additional strain on families... leads to parental mental health and relationship problems, financial problems and substance misuse... this can have a negative impact on parenting behaviours which impact children’s outcomes." - Health Scotland , 2023

Additionally, children raised in poverty are more often subjected to issues relating to their health and well-being, such as poor nutrition, chronic disease or mental health disorders, than those who are better-off, as a result of suffering at the hands of major factors such as limited finance for everyday resources, heightened stress levels and unhealthy lifestyles. Furthermore, children of lower income may experience bullying or the feeling of exclusion due to an inability to access the social activities of their peers;

As an emphasis of this, children raised in some of the most deprived areas of the UK, notably including the Sandwell District of the West Midlands and several neighbourhoods within the cities of Manchester, Liverpool, Kingston upon Hull and London, experience higher infant mortality rates, lower birthweight, greater risk of being overweight or obese, a substantial chance of tooth decay and more frequent teenage pregnancy.

How a low income childhood may dictate a child's future

It is commonly known that individual's with lower economic blessings struggle to obtain opportunities in employment that are of a secure or substantial calibre, but what is the reasoning for this?

Initially, the cause of this problem may be underpinned as an inferior plethora of education opportunities throughout childhood due to a lack of household finance to fund high quality education and below par standards for educational establishments within deprived areas of the UK. As a result of this, children from disadvantaged areas tend to yield lower progress in regard to cognitive development and in-school achievements than those who are more privileged.

In turn, these children often lack the coaching, tutoring and mental stimulation which they require in order to accumulate a strong set of academic skills and attributes, and therefore fall short of the right of passage upheld by high-paying employers, and must seek out lower-income roles which require a lower standard of academic knowledge or skill.

However, with the continuous advancement of technology both globally and in the UK, the availability of lower skilled job roles has become scarce, as evidenced by ONS in their 2019 report which stated that around "7.4% of employment roles in the UK are at high risk of being replaced by automation within the near future", which includes around 1.5 million jobs across the nation.

On the other hand, whilst the severity of child poverty within the UK remains immense, it is not impossible to combat this in order to improve the living standards for future generations; for example through intensifying the educational support provided to children living in disadvantaged circumstances via parental engagement, good quality pre-school education and extra-curricular activities during school time, in addition to encouraging action from the government regarding the issue and donating to charitable organisations such as Save The Children and Nesta, as previously mentioned.

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