An Analysis of the Prevalence of Child Poverty in the United States

Child Development and Challenges

Millions of children all over the world miss out on opportunities and do not enjoy their childhood on the account of poverty. Therefore, there is a need to look at the big opportunity for children living in poverty. I believe that poverty deprives children of the capacity required to survive, thrive, grow well and develop. It also deprives children of the chance to enjoy equal benefits and opportunities as others in other parts of the nation and world.

As a result, children become more prone to vulnerabilities like abuse, exploitation, stigmatization, discrimination, and violence. According to Pressman (2011), children go through poverty as a damaging environment to their physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental development. As a result, child poverty includes material deprivation, emotional poverty, and spiritual lacking. In my opinion, inequality in opportunities and social benefits are the biggest barriers to opportunity for poor children and the biggest challenge for development.

Since the 70s, child poverty in the US alone has averaged 20% (Pressman, 2011).

In 2009, almost 21% of all children in the US were poor (Pressman, 2011). This has led the country to lose more than $500 billion annually due to lowered income and productivity, high rates of crime, and increasing health expenditure. Poor children rarely attend school. Those who attend are usually hungry, which affects their learning, lowers their grades, and reduces the chance of a better future. In creating a solution, Pressman (2011) suggests that the country adopts policies that support families with children. He suggests child allowances and tax exemptions for such entities.

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Child allowances are regular payments to families on behalf of children. Tax benefits will also play a huge role in creating equal chances for children living in poverty. Today, several countries (especially in the developed world) offer child support through family allowances or tax benefits to such families regardless of their income.

While the tax system in the United States is well managed, I feel that it has failed to reduce the number of poor children. It is worth noting that, unlike other First World countries, the US uses its tax system to support families with children rather than the conventional method of giving a regular income to such families. Tax exemptions for children are the primary method applied. Every child provides tax benefits through an exemption to that particular household, minimizing the family’s taxable income while lowering income tax owed to the government. Nonetheless, this measure seems to have failed. Therefore, the US government needs to consider the option of child allowances. This is because the tax system is automated in a way that it does not consider factors outside of the income. For example, some working families may require assistance with sick children. Additionally, some of the working spouses earn the minimum wage and therefore their tax benefits are lower than usual. In trying to reduce child poverty, uniformity cannot apply since families have different needs. In fighting inequality, a tax benefit system is a poor tool. For instance, low-income households owe little tax to the government. On the other hand, high-income families owe a lot and therefore their tax-exempts are viable. This situation ends up supporting capable families instead of the poor. Thus, the poor continue to suffer as the rich children benefit from the flawed system. In light of the above, I feel that child allowances should, therefore, be used in fighting inequality that poses the biggest threat to opportunity for children living in poverty.

Child Development

Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological model has continued to help the world in understanding the development of a child. From the bioecological theory, we learn that child development occurs through progressive processes that involve complex interactions between active children and the environment. The environment interacts with active children via people, symbols, objects, and other physical aspects of nature. To attain efficiency, this interaction needs to take place regularly over long periods. According to Bronfenbrenner, the ecological environment is a set of structures, systems, or frameworks that are arranged well in one another for efficiency. The development of a child is primarily gradual. It also involves reciprocal relationships between these children and their environment. In my opinion, this is a breakthrough in understanding and theorizing complicated frameworks of multiethnic and multicultural societies like the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. From a functional point of view, the hierarchical organization and system as posited by Bronfenbrenner are sufficient for child growth. Different perspectives are necessary for understanding the growth and development of a child.

The system as proposed by Bronfenbrenner is closely related to the PPCT (process, person, context, and time) model. The PPCT model in Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory provides a process as the relationship between a child and the immediate environment. This immediate environment is responsible for the general well-being and competencies of a child. Such relationships drive development. The processes allow a child to acquire lessons, authoritative parenting, protection, nutrition, and growth in cultural or religious practices. In the same processes, distal functions include the ability of a family to support a child in the interaction with other environments that make up the life of the child. This support includes access to communal resources and interaction with other social functions.

The person’s function is based on the influence of family through the characteristics of a child. For instance, disabled children face higher risks of experiencing stigma or other negative social interactions. In the same manner, the differences between genders in maturity, reasoning, and coping skills may result in differentials in social relationships and sound functioning in biological terms. From this, personal variables such as sex, age, disability, illness, and temperament can be connected to development. These variables also affect proximal processes.

Context makes up the most important function of child development. It refers to the many venues that modify proximal processes such as environments that interact with the child. The environment may be social, economic, or physical in terms of interactions. For instance, the more resources a parent has, the more capacity he/she has to offer quality care that influences proper development. Bronfenbrenner’s model also includes a time component that encompasses duration, periodicity, and chronological age. Events have different degrees of influence on the development and the effect decreases as time goes by.

The pros of having defined disciplinary boundaries like sociology, psychology, and economics when it comes to the study of children and poverty are many. For instance, such interdisciplinary boundaries allow caregivers to understand the experiences as well as the support needed for such children. Additionally, there are different needs for children in terms of sociology, psychology, and economics. A child may be economically fit while they lack other sociological needs. As a con, I feel that we overemphasize on the economical aspect of children and poverty and forget other developmental aspects of a child.

Research Methods in Children and Poverty

From the above discussion, we have looked at different challenges and issues affecting children about poverty and developmental changes. Many research methods are needed to study social science research questions. Additionally, the benefits of such methods are crucial in contributing to our understanding of issues relating to children and poverty. Essentially, research questions dictate the scope and direction of a study. Having several research methods in the study

research questions is a strategy that we choose in the integration of different constituents of a study logically and coherently. This ensures that a study will efficiently address the problem under research. With many research methods, a study can capture different issues making a blueprint for the collection, measurement, and data analysis. Research questions define a topic to be reviewed. However, the questions are a broad representation of the topic under review. Children and poverty present sensitive issues in any given society. Therefore, the research methods used must be precise and informative. Precise methods allow users of the research study to have relevant information applicable to specific situations. In a society where issues relating to children and poverty are prevalent, many research methods offer different perspectives on a research topic. Different research methods can be applied in social sciences including surveys, field research, participant observation, and experiments. For example, the issues that are highlighted in qualitative research involving a survey have a different point of view than the same ones presented in quantitative research in an experiment. Therefore, a research method used augments research questions, especially in a social science setup.

In social sciences, the majority of researchers apply a mixed method research approach. Every method has pros and cons that determine the suitability for specific situations. In interviews for instance they are good at insightfully investigating issues. The main advantage of interviews is that they help obtain detailed information on personal feelings, opinions, and perceptions. Additionally, they allow a better-detailed questioning system and an easy correlation of speech. As a bonus, interviews attain very high response rates. However, interviews are time-consuming and costly. Interviewers also transcribe and understand issues differently thus providing different data.

In the same manner, participant observation is a good method of conducting research. The main advantage of this method is that the participants behave normally, therefore, validating the evidence collected. Additionally, it takes the perception of a participant rather than the viewpoint of a researcher. Participant observation digs deep into social relationships, therefore, making the researcher open to brand new insights. This is further supported by the fact that questions are not fixed before the interview. Nonetheless, participant observation studies a small group and therefore does not ensure representation. Additionally, participant observation cannot be rechecked and redone for increased reliability. Regarding the amount of information collected, this method can be quite time-consuming. While participants are in their natural environment, the presence of a researcher may change the behavior they display thus distorting data.


  1. Pressman, S. (2011). Policies to Reduce Child Poverty: Child Allowances versus Tax
  2. Exemptions for Children. Journal of Economic Issues (M.E. Sharpe Inc.), 45(2), 323-332. doi:10.2753/JEI0021-3624450209.

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An Analysis of the Prevalence of Child Poverty in the United States. (2022, Aug 07). Retrieved from

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