Don’t Lie to Poor Kids About Why They’re Poor

childhood-poverty-us

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Work hard and you’ll get ahead — that’s the mantra driven into young people across the country.

But what happens when children born into poverty run face first into the crushing reality that the society they live in really isn’t that fair at all?

As new research shows, they break down.

A just released study published in the journal Child Development tracked the middle school experience of a group of diverse, low-income students in Arizona. The study found that the kids who believed society was generally fair typically had high self-esteem, good classroom behavior, and less delinquent behavior outside of school when they showed up in the sixth grade.

When those same kids left in the eighth grade, though, each of those criteria had degraded — they showed lower self-esteem and worse behavior.

What caused this downward slide?

In short, belief in a fair and just system of returns ran head-on into reality for marginalized kids. When they see people that look like them struggling despite working hard, they’re forced to reckon with the cognitive dissonance.

This problem doesn’t afflict the well-off, who can comfortably imagine their success is the result of their hard work and not their inherited advantage.

Erin Godfrey, a psychology professor at New York University and the study’s lead author, explains that for marginalized kids who behave badly, “there’s this element of people think of me this way anyway, so this must be who I am.” She points out that middle school is the time when many young people begin to notice personal discrimination, identify as a member of a marginalized group, and recognize the existence of systemic discrimination.

The existence of a permanent and rigid system of inequality can be hard to grapple with at any age. The United States leads the world in overall wealth yet is also near the top in childhood poverty, with one in five kids born into poverty.

Despite an often-repeated myth about social mobility — the ability of the poor to become rich — the United States lags behind in this category. Canada now has three times the social mobility of the United States.

The gap between the rich and poor starts early. A 2016 study by the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund reports: “From as early as the age of 3, children from more affluent backgrounds tend to do better in cognitive tests.” By age 5, children from poor families are three times more likely to be in the bottom 10 percent in cognitive ability.

It’s a complex problem. But the solutions to this deep structural inequality are actually fairly straightforward.

In short, we need major investments in universal public programs to rebuild the social safety net, ensure early childhood education as well as debt-free higher education, and good-paying jobs.

In other words, we need to help those born without inherited assets to get the same shot at education and employment as everyone else — and also reassure them that if they fail, they won’t end up homeless.

Those who claim the country can’t afford such programs should look at the massive subsidies lavished out to the ultra-wealthy. In 2016, half a trillion dollars were doled out in tax subsidies, overwhelmingly to the already rich.

But before we do all that, we simply have to tell the truth: Our economic system is far from fair. It’s tilted heavily against marginalized communities.

Teaching that to kids, rather than perpetuating a myth about “fairness,” is an important step forward.

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The Moms Fighting for Their Kids Behind Bars

Originally in Newsweek.

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(Photo: Flickr / Backbone Campaign)

Burnt toast, strawberry jam, a half-eaten stick of bacon — all carefully arranged on a tray and plunked by loving hands onto the bellies that once carried them. That’s how many children and mothers start the first Sunday of May each year. Mother’s Day is among most precious days for many moms around the country.

It’s also among the most heart-breaking for others.

It’s hard for many of us who haven’t experienced the cruel absence of a child to fully understand it. But for the mothers of the 54,000 children incarcerated in this country — the most of any in the world — Mother’s Day rings in a pain so acute it can be hard to describe.

For instance, Jeannette Bocanegra and her son JahPower were separated for six Mother’s Days, starting when the boy was only 14 years old. Throughout his years in lockup — including an especially brutal time at Rikers Island — the teenager was moved repeatedly, farther away from home each time. Authorities often didn’t even bother to tell Bocanegra where her son had been sent.

After one move, she remembers him calling to say, “Mommy, they moved me again and I don’t think you can come this far.” Indeed it was a struggle for Bocanegra, a hard-working mother of five from the Bronx, and her cancer-stricken husband to afford to travel such long distances. Yet she assured her child, “No matter where they send you, I’m going to find you.”

Read the full article on Newsweek.

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All Trans Kids Have Constitutional Rights — Whether Trump Likes It or Not

trans-transgender-kids-children-schools-protections-gavin-grimm-supreme-court

(Photo: Ted Eytan / Flickr)

Before the Doomsday Clock of the Era of Trump even strikes noon, the administration’s efforts to shred the rights of the most vulnerable Americans are already bearing fruit.

The Supreme Court of the United States was slated to hear its first ever case on transgender rights, G.G. v. Gloucester, on March 28. The case concerns a transgender high school student in Gloucester, Virginia who was denied the right to use the boys bathroom at school.

The Fourth Court of Appeals had ruled in the boy’s favor, citing the May 2016 guidance from the Obama administration which clarified that Title IX — the 1972 law that protects children in schools that receive federal funding from discrimination based on sex — extends those protections to gender identity. This clarification was based on a decade of supportive case law and expertise about the science of sex and gender.

But within hours of becoming attorney general, Jeff Sessions — along with Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — rescinded the Obama guidelines, sowing confusion about the extent of Title IX protections.

Because of that, the Supreme Court announced on March 6 that it was refusing to hear Gavin Grimm’s case, vacating the affirming ruling of the Fourth Court of Appeals on the grounds that it was based on guidance that the Trump administration rescinded. Now the lower court will have to consider the case again.

This is a blow to transgender kids and their families —  and to the majority of Americans who now support the rights of transgender children. However, it is critical to note that nothing Trump does can take away the Constitutional rights of transgender children to be protected from discrimination.

The fight for recognition of trans kids surges on, and their human rights and dignity can’t ever be removed by anyone or anything.

Karen Dolan directs the Criminalization of Race and Poverty Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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Why Our Kids Are Coming in Last Place

(Photo: North Charleston/Flickr)

(Photo: North Charleston/Flickr)

The United States, anyone could reasonably argue, has the most accomplished elite athletes in the world. The best evidence? In Rio this past summer, young American men and women finished at a comfortable first place in the Olympic final medal tally.

But what if we compared nations on the fitness of average young people, not elite athletes? How would the United States stack up then?

Not too well, concludes a global study just published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. This new research — conducted by a team of academics from Canada, the United States, and Australia — looked at the fitness levels of 1.1 million young people aged 9 to 17, from 50 different nations.

In this competition, young people in the United States didn’t finish first. They finished an appalling 47th out of 50.

“If all the kids in the world were to line up for a race,” report author Dr. Grant Tomkinson summed up, “the average American child would finish at the foot of the field.”

How could the United States, a nation that prides itself on nurturing Olympic champions, have an overall population of young people so unfit?

The new study doesn’t answer that question directly. But it does make a fascinating connection. In nations with smaller gaps between rich and poor, young people show higher levels of fitness.

Income inequality, as the study puts it, appears to be a “strong structural determinant of health” in children and youth.

This linkage won’t surprise anyone who’s been following research on inequality. In recent years, investigators have detailed that people in societies with lower levels of inequality live longer than people in nations with high inequality, like the United States.

Residents of more equal nations also trust each other more, bully each other less, and enjoy better mental health.

But why should social indecency and ill health thrive in unequal places? And, more pointedly, what explains the link between inequality and youth fitness?

No one knows for sure, but analysts have some ideas.

Some lean toward a fiscal explanation. In unequal nations, they point out, wealth and political power tend to concentrate in the hands of an awesomely affluent few. These privileged individuals typically don’t use public services and often resent having to pay taxes to help fund them.

In deeply unequal nations, this combination of political power and resentment ends up generating government budgets that gut public services the rich seldom use — everything from public parks to public education.

Amid the resulting fiscal austerity, public parks start closing. Public schools start charging parents hefty fees if their kids want to play school sports.

As a result, fewer kids get to play and exercise. A top-heavy distribution of wealth translates, in effect, into less-active childhoods.

Other analysts take a more physical approach and focus on the stress that inequality inevitably generates. This ongoing stress pounds relentlessly on our immune systems. And the things we take for relief from that pounding — drugs or sugar-packed snacks, for instance — typically leave us less fit.

Both these fiscal and physical explanations have merit. And both help us understand the importance of doing all that we can to reduce inequality.

If we want to see all kids have the chance to become champions in life, we’ll need to start adopting, as the authors of the new global fitness study conclude, “policies aimed at reducing the gap between rich and poor.”

The post Why Our Kids Are Coming in Last Place appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Sam Pizzigati is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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Kids Won’t Want to Protect the World If They Never Get to Explore It

(Photo: IberianExplorer/Flickr)

(Photo: IberianExplorer/Flickr)

Let kids be kids — that’s some of the most common parenting advice you’ll hear. But when it comes to letting them be kids outdoors, many parents take pause. According to one U.K. study, in fact, most kids spend less time outside than incarcerated adults. What a loss.

Every other summer when I was growing up, my family visited my great-grandmother’s ranch in the hills of northern California. A bounty of interesting and abandoned structures stood decrepit on this once bustling cattle farm, and it was all mine to discover.

I still remember searching for barn owls in the rafters of the old hay barn and relishing in the capture of the pudgiest bullfrog tadpoles from the dredger ponds. For what seemed like hours, I’d kneel on muddy knees as I earnestly tried to lure feral kittens out from under the front stoop of the farmhouse. Traveling through the fields alone, I was aware of the risk of startling rattlesnakes as I walked through thigh-high wildflowers, or the chance of meeting of an aggressive Angus bull. And the incessant buzz of wasps and hornets was never far away. Yet I was having the time of my life.

It was this faint whiff of danger that cemented my appreciation of nature and ultimately resulted in my choosing conservation education as my profession. Teetering on the edge of risk around the dangers of the ranch increased my attention to the world around me and elevated my respect for animals.

Read the full article on the Baltimore Sun’s website.

 

 

The post Kids Won’t Want to Protect the World If They Never Get to Explore It appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Heather Doggett is a New Economy Maryland fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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Dispatches: Obama Bans E-Cigarettes for Kids, but Not Child Labor in Tobacco Fields – Human Rights Watch


Human Rights Watch
Dispatches: Obama Bans E-Cigarettes for Kids, but Not Child Labor in Tobacco Fields
Human Rights Watch
Kids under age 18 soon will no longer be able to buy e-cigarettes in the United States, according to new regulations announced last week by the Obama administration. Yet it remains legal for kids as young as 12 to be exposed to nicotine working on US …

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This Kids’ Clothing Ad Might Be the Most Whimsical Depiction of Child Labor Ever – Adweek


Adweek
This Kids' Clothing Ad Might Be the Most Whimsical Depiction of Child Labor Ever
Adweek
This marks its first brand film since its charming child sailor ad of 2010—another instance in which kids appear in cute adult-ish contexts—and depicts what can only described as a cross between a child labor factory and the ultimate playroom. In the

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This Kids’ Clothing Ad Might Be the Most Whimsical Depiction of Child Labor Ever – Adweek


Adweek
This Kids' Clothing Ad Might Be the Most Whimsical Depiction of Child Labor Ever
Adweek
This marks its first brand film since its charming child sailor ad of 2010—another instance in which kids appear in cute adult-ish contexts—and depicts what can only described as a cross between a child labor factory and the ultimate playroom. In the

|||||||http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNH5P6LSw8U-HZvjJgtS0wTRDFfdlA&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&ei=USRaVuDHMYmChQG905H4Aw&url=http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/kids-clothing-ad-might-be-most-whimsical-depiction-child-labor-ever-168212

This Kids’ Clothing Ad Might Be the Most Whimsical Depiction of Child Labor Ever – Adweek


Adweek
This Kids' Clothing Ad Might Be the Most Whimsical Depiction of Child Labor Ever
Adweek
This marks its first brand film since its charming child sailor ad of 2010, and depicts what can only described as a cross between a child labor factory and the ultimate playroom. In the ad, by Paris agency BETC, a dog slips into the doggy door of an

|||||||http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNH5P6LSw8U-HZvjJgtS0wTRDFfdlA&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&ei=cuxQVvD-D4bywQGurbHABA&url=http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/kids-clothing-ad-might-be-most-whimsical-depiction-child-labor-ever-168212

Asean Today: 3000 Viet Kids ‘Slave Labor in UK’; Cambodia Offers Shelter … – Phuketwan


Phuketwan
Asean Today: 3000 Viet Kids 'Slave Labor in UK'; Cambodia Offers Shelter
Phuketwan
straitstimes.com The Philippines is in the grip of a heatwave with reservoirs that supply tap and irrigation water across the main island of Luzon drying up fast, threatening crop harvests. This could force the nation to import more rice and corn this

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