Studies Show Physical and Psychological Degradation Directly Relates to Poverty

Money: the sole possession that controls one’s ability to obtain all other possessions. One works as a lifelong slave to accumulate valuable paper, and upon failure to do so, suffers the physical and mental defeat of its power. The severity of the effects is so cruel that small children become overwhelmed with helplessness as they live the consequences faced by an adult that is unable to care for themselves. This heart-wrenching story lived by many Americans continues as time disintegrates and young adults develop into a product of their environment. Adverse impacts of living in poverty are shown to influence the behavior of individuals through the physical and psychological deterioration of those affected and their affiliations.

When one is facing the challenges of living in poverty, the struggle to maintain a place of shelter takes precedence over physical health. While the government does offer housing vouchers, these vouchers are valid for “project” housing. Project housing is “a publicly built and operated housing development, usually intended for low- or moderate-income tenants, senior citizens, etc.” (“Housing project,” 2017). This form of shelter is incapable of providing one with a feeling of self-worth as its unfavorable appearance, and lack of upkeep are unsettling. Facilities such as this forgo maintenance and lack appliances that remain unreplaced due to theft by the occupant or the resident’s inability to provide their own. “Housing costs make up the majority of most Americans’ monthly costs” (Wahowiak, 2016, p.1), these costs include the expense of retaining shelter as well as essential bills such as water, gas and electric. It is evident that noncompliance regarding a payment towards a gas bill results in termination of service. During the frigid months of winter, survival takes priority over safety as it is not uncommon that a gas stove becomes a heat source. Resorting to desperate methods to obtain warmth presents a danger to other occupants that also reside in the structure as many times these buildings are missing proper ventilation and house improperly stored chemicals. Additionally, these units provide an ideal environment for mold growth, dirty carpet, pests, lead paint, and lack of plumbing.  Living amongst these conditions, one is at risk to get cancer, diabetes, and asthma (Wahowiak, 2016). Physical health threats of this severity require ongoing treatment. It is necessary to establish a way to ensure the safety of low-income structures therefor decreasing physical health concerns among the residents.

The constant stress created by one’s financial inability to provide a congenial atmosphere promotes the decline of one’s psychological state and those surrounding. “It has been estimated that 40-59% of mothers from low-income/impoverished conditions exhibit depressive symptoms that could be considered severe or clinically significant” (Henninger & Luze, 2014, p. 468), thus solidifying a connection between poverty and depression. When a parent struggles with the psychological burdens caused by the effects of stress and depression, they unintentionally lack sensitivity towards their child’s emotional needs. They are unable to provide positive communication skills with their children including the failure to provide them with proper support and praise. Consequently, children are prone to aggressive behavior and fail to develop appropriate social and emotional skills (Henninger & Luze, 2014). The inability of a caregiver to maintain a bond with a child results in the child seeking attention elsewhere.

Failure to achieve proper growth and development, youth living in poverty are at an increased risk to drop out of school. “A substantial body of evidence shows that concentrated poverty in urban neighborhoods and the adverse social conditions that typically accompany it affect the performance of students and of schools” (Petrick, 2014, p.127), links poverty with one’s disability to socially excel amongst others. When money is not available for food, the failure of a child to develop properly is inevitable. Parents are so consumed with the struggle to obtain money and burdened by their stresses that they fail to maintain an emotional connection with children leaving them with unmet needs. Insufficient income and a lack of parental involvement due to work, older siblings are apt to take on the responsibility of parenting their brothers and sisters resulting in the inability to attend school (Petrick, 2014). When a parent struggles to meet the financial demands of a household, transportation to their employment takes priority over a child’s need to go to school. Children result from circumstances that financially disable them from attending school. Other kids are socially awkward, courtesy of a money deficient upbringing and choose to drop out of school feeling mentally unfit. Feelings of insecurity possessed by youth, promote aggressiveness towards peers and contributes to the likelihood of criminal activity. Communities face the burden of inheriting individuals that lack the educational skills proper to provide a contribution.

Children produced by low-income families lack correct psychological development, further contributing to the likelihood of criminal tendencies. Sadly, some children are forced to leave their home as a form of survival. Other reasons for leaving home include a lack of family support (absent parents, and poor monitoring), abuse or neglect, and additionally the want for basic needs and gratification (Fielding & Forchk, 2013). Turning to the streets in hopes of fulfilling these unmet needs means one must get money to purchase survival necessities. Lacking proper psychological development, children resort to crimes such as theft, drug sales, and prostitution to acquire these needs. It is shown that children suffering from depression have a high probability of being arrested and aren’t concerned with the outcome of their negative actions. Some view the consequences of being arrested as punishing themselves (Fielding & Forchk, 2013). Communities suffer the repercussions of children that lack proper mental development as these individuals fail to attain employment and educational skills needed to further the economy.

Adolescents affected by poverty-related developmental absences face an increased risk of teen pregnancy.  Parents are often more concerned with the safety of their children in dangerous neighborhoods than they are with monitoring their sexual activity. Parents that are victims of poverty fail to provide teens with stable families and good role models. They don’t educate their children on the importance of a proper education, job, or marriage. Their children are only becoming an adult (Wodtke, 2013). Caregivers who suffer from poverty generated mental illnesses are unable to provide children with a stable family structure. Teens are failing to seek attention at home consequently looking to others for what is lacking. In situations, such as this, the continuance of an education is likely to end. Teen parents are disadvantaged as neither they or their families possess the financial ability to support a child. Necessary skills to further one’s advancement in regards to employment and education, if sought after are prolonged in this situation.

A lifestyle shaped by poverty deteriorates the physical and mental well-being of its sufferers and further produces behavioral defects that hinder the existence of those surrounding. One’s mental health collapses beneath the anxiety and depression triggered by the constant failure to meet basic needs financially. Inadequate living conditions possess immense dangers to one’s physical health and continue doing so when the cost of improvements is unobtainable. Children, in turn, suffer mental health conditions resulting in behavioral problems such as dropping out of school, fleeing home, engaging in criminal activity, and becoming parents at a young age. Society, in total, fights to produce growth, while the poor lack the ability to provide positive contributions. Local government should administer strict safety inspections and proper maintenance to accompany the low-income housing that they provide. Beginning with safe living conditions some of the stress and physical health concerns could be relieved from these families, in turn giving them a better attempt to focus on regaining financial stability.

Fielding K., Forchk C. (2013). Exploring the factors associated with youth homelessness and arrests. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 26(4), 225–233. doi: 10.1111/jcap.12056

housing project. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved from website

Henninger, W., R.; Luze, G. (2014). Poverty, caregiver depression and stress as predictors of children’s externalizing behaviours in a lowincome sample. Child & Family Social Work, 19(4), 467–479. doi: 10.1111/cfs.12046

Petrick, Jr., D. L (2014). School drop outs: poverty and consequences for society. Insights to a Changing World Journal, volume # 2014(issue #4), 127–136. Retrieved from:

Wahowiak, L. (2016). Healthy, safe housing linked to healthier, longer lives: housing a social determinant of health. The Nation’s Health, 46(7), p1. Retrieved from:

Wodtke, G. T. (2013). Duration and Timing of Exposure to Neighborhood Poverty and the Risk of Adolescent Parenthood. Demography, volume #50(issue #5), 1765–1788. doi: 10.1007/s13524-013-0219-z