Research Paper on Reaction on “Effects of Poverty on M-E-B health of Kids”

Yoshikawa, Aber and Beardslee in the article, The Effects of Poverty on the Mental, Emotional, And Behavioral Health of Children and Youth: Implications for Prevention, that appeared in the fourth issue of American Psychologist Journal focus on effects of poverty levels on the health of children affect. The article majorly focuses on studies carried out in the United States that assess how a child’s mental, emotional and behavioral (M-E-B) well being is affected by poverty. The authors have also pointed out possible solutions that are used in preventing the M-E-B disorders. Poverty is classified in different categories and dimensions and some of these classifications as discussed in this article are absolute, relative, subjective and asset poverty. Absolute poverty is inability to afford basic needs while relative poverty refers decrease in income of the National Median House Income to levels below 50% or 60% (Yoshikawa, Aber & Beardslee, 2012). The article defines poverty in many other different ways that not only involve inadequate means but also other important human development assets like education and health.

Many studies associate negative outcomes in language, physical health, academic achievement and cognitive development to poverty. This article adds M-E-B health to this list of negative outcomes in children. However, this does not mean poverty causes these negative outcomes. Poverty is a complex topic intertwined by ‘co-factors’ or correlates which may be determinants or mediators. Family structure, education and achievement are poverty determinants of a family’s income and therefore are capable of affecting children’s health. Other correlates include distressing neighborhoods, food supplies that are low in nutrition, underperforming schools among others. Besides correlates, genetic factors can also affect family poverty. The genetic factors may affect parenting characteristics or outcomes in children. Instrumental variable analysis is a technique discussed in the article that determines whether children’s outcome improve when their families participate in welfare reform programs. The results from the analysis are conclusive with the hypothesis that children’s M-E-B health is relates to family income.
The article discusses poverty in terms of direct and mediated effects on children. In studying these effects, it is important to consider the poverty at all the three levels: individual, relational and institutional levels. Apart from these levels, one should consider the developmental and dynamic processes of poverty. Data collected using longitudinal prospective shows that sample from families with low socioeconomic status (SES) have higher lifetime depression rates. Poverty in the relational level is evident from depressed parental moods when facing economic hardships and marital conflicts. These factors affect children’s childhood due to high rates of disorganization in parenting. Institutionally, the condition of the neighborhood, parental work and schooling activities are potential mediators in a child’s M-E-B health (Yoshikawa, Aber & Beardslee, 2012). Children brought up in poverty are less likely to attend a school with a positive classroom climate or functional institutional practices. The school environment can significantly affect a child’s social adjustment and behavior hence affecting their M-E-B health.
Additionally, the jobs done by parents determine their relational mediators like parenting. If a parent works on a low-income job, there are minimal advancement opportunities in such jobs and the jobs are highly unstable. This affects children’s education in two ways. First, unstable jobs are likely to result in unemployment through termination of contracts or retrenchment and this affects a family’s economic resources. The parent may become unable to pay for proper education for their children or avail basic needs that supplement good health and proper education. Second, the low-income jobs result to unstable economical conditions that lower parents self esteem. This leads to reduced parenting quality and psychological resources. The parent may fail in providing effective care to their children due to psychological distress. I think this point is correct because psychological distress and poor economical conditions in a family are potential causes of marital conflicts and this affects children adversely. Fights between parents originating from poverty may deter their children’s emotional and behavioral growth.
In the institutional mechanisms, poor neighborhood is discussed in the article as a major cause of poor M-E-B health in children and adolescents. Outcomes in children are majorly affected by the efficacy of neighbors in interventions or creation of suitable environment that support positive development. For instance, children who grow up in positive neighborhoods that support structured youth programs have significant positive M-E-B health growth than those who are brought up in problematic neighborhoods. Cultural differences in status, access and behavior by various social hierarchies are other examples depicting the effects of inequality in the society on a child’s outcome. The article discusses findings from studies done in countries with gaps between the rich and poor. Societies with more equal citizens, societies with a smaller gap, are most likely to enjoy social cohesion, low violence levels, trust and more communal involvement in activities than societies with gaps. Gaps can be no only between the poor and the rich but also marginalized and majority communities (Yoshikawa, Aber & Beardslee, 2012). These gaps affect the way children behave, react emotionally, and their general mental wellness.
The authors have further gone ahead to discuss the different types of interventions that can be adopted to avert this situation. They suggest two sets of inventions. The first set targets mechanisms employed in preventing the problems by influencing the mechanisms. The second intervention targets eliminating poverty itself. Interventions targeting processes that link poverty to poor development in children involve factors like parental responsiveness, attachment processes and cognitive stimulation. Institutionally, meta-analyses have been conducted to most low-income based schools. Interventions targeting poverty directly involve formulation and implementation of policies and programs aimed at reducing poverty levels by the government. Some of the policies discussed in this article are childhood allowances and tax credits, conditional cash transfer, adult human capital interventions, natural experiments, In-kind support policies and early childhood interventions.
This article has conclusively discussed the role poverty plays in determining the mental, behavior and emotional health of children. The authors have explained their arguments explicitly and supported these arguments with scientific findings from surveys carried out. The article has effectively referenced information obtained from other sources different from the others’ opinions and has included links to review made. I think the article effectively links most disorders observed in children to various societal factors: poverty being one of them. The only thing I find insufficient is the use of numerous citations from different authors. One could challenge the article’s credibility since most of the ideas have been quoted or paraphrased from other external sources. Otherwise I find the article convincing because it has explained effects of poverty to children well being. The article also gives possible ways of ensuring the problem is solved. The authors have successfully proved poverty is indeed a main cause of Mental, Emotional and Behavioral health problems in children.

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