Child Poverty in Arizona Term Paper

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Child Poverty in Arizona

Ironically, for a nation that boasts of great development and high standards of living, the U.S. also bears the dishonour of being the worst among developed nations when it comes to child poverty. Child poverty, High school education and health insurance are widely recognized as the standard indicators upon which the social health of a country is measured. All the above statistic indices are unfavorable in the case of Arizona. Children need a congenial environment for their physical, emotional and mental development and that cannot be possible when they are left to reel under poverty. Alleviating childhood poverty should not just be a slogan, but a high priority issue that needs immediate addressal, and this can only be achieved by means of a collaborative effort, with both the state and federal governments, and social organizations working together.

Introduction

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The United States is undoubtedly one of the best-developed nations in the world. Equal is its strategic might with its military presence in innumerable countries across the world. Amidst all these achievements and high standard of life style that the nation enjoys, it seems ironic that the U.S. also bears the dishonour of being the worst among developed nations when it comes to the number of children affected by poverty. Children are the future of any nation and hence their proper overall development is of utmost importance. Nationwide, Arizona alongside Louisiana and Mississippi continues to suffer from high child poverty rates with disturbing consequences for the youth. The rising problem of drug abuse among the poor children of Arizona, and the increase in childhood delinquencies in the state are clear indications that urgent measures have to be undertaken. Since poverty is directly associated with education, emotional development and tendency for crime, obliterating childhood poverty is an urgent necessity for the state of Arizona. A brief overview of childhood poverty and the current statistics for the state will help us understand the seriousness of the problem.

Term Paper on Child Poverty in Arizona Assignment

Arizona: Childhood Poverty (Statistics) recent UICEF study states, "Protecting children from the sharpest edges of poverty during their years of growth and formation is both the mark of a civilized society and a means of addressing some of the evident problems that affect the quality of life in the economically developed nations.." [Naomi Sheehan Groce] Unfortunately, for America, childhood poverty is a looming problem and in some states it is very severe. As per the Children's Action Alliance (CAA) 2000 publication, "Poverty is the single most critical factor that threatens a child's well being. Arizona ranks 9th highest among states for child poverty, with almost 1 in 4 children living in poverty."[Tumbleweed] Since then the situation has not changed for the good. While Denmark and Finland fair the best among the developed countries with child poverty rates well below 3%, the ratio for U.S. is rather depressing with national average of more than 20%. [Naomi Sheehan Groce] as per the 2005 American Community Survey data, 30.8% of children less than 18 years of age in rural Arizona are below the poverty line. Going by this statistic, Arizona is the fourth worst state in all of U.S.. [Carsey] the more recent 2007 statistic for the entire state of Arizona also shows that the state fairs much poor in comparison with other states. There are 864,870 families, in Arizona with 1,553,245 children. The number of poor children in Arizona is 21% (318,899) as against the national average of 18%. [NCCP]

The federal poverty level for 2007 is fixed at $20,650 but most researchers believe that this calculation is based on old standards that do not hold good under present circumstances. Thus $41,300 for a family of four (two adults and two children) is considered a more accurate measure of poverty level. A little introspection into other statistics released by the NCCP (national centre for children in poverty) would reveal the issues that are related to child poverty in the State of Arizona. As is obvious, parents' employment status is a prominent factor for poverty among children. 30% (94,579) of the children living in poor families in Arizona 'do not have an employed parent'. Parent's educational status also affects children's poverty rate. It is found that around 48% (130,831) of children living in poor families in Arizona have parents who have not even completed High school education. Marital status and other social problems also contribute directly to poverty rate. Statistics show that around 60% (192,314) of children in poor families are single parented. Statistics also show that around 25% (134,994) of children below 6 years of age live in poor families. [NCCP]

Poverty and Drugs

As discussed above, the implications of poverty on children is very gripping. Many children suffering from poverty are easily exposed to the growing social problem of drug abuse. In fact, a recent Arizona youth survey (2006) showed that 4.3% of the state's children between the age of 13 and 17 have tried methamphetamine, which is more than twice the national average. [Terry Goddard] Methamphetamine abuse is one of the leading causes for crime in Arizona and hence immediate action plan and intervention from government and other social support groups is paramount. Poverty and low income levels are cited as contributing reasons says Ann Yom, government affairs counsel for the National Criminal Justice Association, " There's no one thing we can put our finger on; the increase in property crimes correlates with an increasing low-income population and increasing meth use." [Tim Vanderpool] to counter the problem of the growing number of meth labs the state, the government introduced pseudoephedrine-purchasing restrictions, which bought about a curtailing effect on local Methamphetamine synthesis by drug dealers. A massive public service campaign initiated by the government with detailed graphic depictions of the horrors of meth abuse and the punishments, enacted by teenage students, has also contributed significantly in increasing awareness about the dangers of meth abuse. However, Methamphetamine continues to be smuggled into Arizona from Mexico, a problem that needs to be more effectively addressed. [Terry Goddard]

Other Social Indicators

Having seen the problems of child poverty and the issues surrounding it, it is equally necessary to analyze the social factors that contribute to child poverty as the problem can be successfully eradicated only with positive social measures. First and foremost of concern is the increasing number of children being born outside marriage. A 2003 study by Robert et.al shows that more than 1.35 million children or 33.5% of all children in the U.S. were born out of wedlock in the year 2001. The study showed that children raised out of wedlock were seven times more likely to be poor compared to children raised by married parents. The researchers concluded that "Nearly three-quarters of government means-tested welfare aid to children goes to single-parent families. Over 80% of long-term child poverty occurs in broken or never-married families" [Robert et.al, 2003]. Given this background, the problem in Arizona is all the more pronounced. Arizona has the third highest teen pregnancy in America falling next only to Texas and Mississippi. It is to be noted that both these other states also have high child poverty rates. As per the data released by the ACAPP, the teen birth rate in U.S. is a staggering 79.8 births per 1000, while it is only 8.7 and 16.1 in Netherlands and Germany respectively. The survey also shows that every day 37 teens become pregnant in the state of Arizona. School failure, family dysfunction and poverty are reported to be high risk factors for teen pregnancy. [ACAPP] Providing after school programs, promoting participation in sport activities and counselling sessions for education and awareness about drugs, and adolescent issues have proven to be highly effective in creating a positive atmosphere and promoting healthy well-being of children and in effectively controlling undesirable social outcomes associated with poverty. [Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence]

Conclusion

Child poverty, High school education and health insurance are widely recognized as the standard indicators upon which the social health of a country is measured. From our above discussion it is plainly obvious that Arizona is definitely struggling and is consistently bad compared to the national average in all these three indices. There is an urgent need for a more active and involved role of the government in designing policies to facilitate more funding for issues pertaining to children: particularly their health and education. However, this can only be achieved by the synergy of the economic and social front. Stable family holds the key to normal and complete development of children and hence efforts must be made to increase awareness about the problems associated with teenage pregnancies and having children out of wedlock.

By means of an active campaigning effort, the state government has already initiated positive measures to create awareness among the youth about the dangers of social evils such as alcohol, drugs, etc., which are invariably related to poverty and crime rate. However, there is much to be desired in the form of federal funding for Arizona, particularly as a state… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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