Statistics show that as many as two billion children live in poverty, but this poverty is more than just the lack of basic amenities; there is also a spiritual poverty caused by the narrow-mindedness of people who have not had the opportunity to educate themselves.
Poverty and its consequences are not limited to communities and families. It first affects individuals and the children who are born into such a situation.
Children born into poverty are not only impaired in health, but also intellectually. Poor children experience more stress, more trauma triggers, and developmental delays also occur in these children because their bodies and minds do not grow as fast as would be normal for children their age.
Recent research has shown that poverty alters the developmental pace of a child’s psyche, as parts of the brain important for memory and high-level skills such as problem-solving abilities shrink and become suppressed due to lack of functionality.
The impact of this type of poverty is that these children are stuck in the reality in which they live and can never dream of a better life. An example of this is the lives of the children who lived under bridges in Nigeria and were recently discovered in a chess competition. These children never knew of their abilities until they introduced an outside force to test and expand their abilities.
This low brain activity is triggered by the stress of having to survive with inferior living conditions. Poor nutrition causes brain cells to develop much more slowly than they should, resulting in their cognitive responses being slower than those of their affluent peers.
In poverty-stricken regions, a child’s formative years are filled primarily with survival instincts and developing the ability to rise above hunger and deprivation, which robs them of education and puts them at high risk of developing health problems that manifest much later in life.
The effects of poverty on children are long-term, as the patterns they are born into become the habits they grow up with, keeping them in a never-ending cycle of limited access to basic amenities. The only hope for a better life for these children is for the government to reach out to low-income communities to help them rise above their situation, or for humanitarian organizations to do their duty to improve the lives of members of such a community.
Although the impact of poverty on children is quite devastating, it does not mean that all hope is lost. As people become more aware of the problems they face, more and more are awakening to the call to serve humanity.