JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA and the LONG TERM EFFECTS OF POVERTY
As I ponder the events surrounding violence in Jacksonville and the recent shootings that left three dead and a little boy seriously injured. I find myself reflecting on the efforts of PROJECT R.E.A.C.H. INC., to highlight the root causes of drugs, gangs and violence and its side effects, and more importantly our continued attempts to garnish the necessary support from religious, political and grassroots organizations to support our efforts on this most urgent matter.
With these thoughts in mind, we suggest poverty as the root cause of gangs, violence and other social ills within our communities. Research indicates that 17% of American children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level and approximately 39% live in families that could be classified as low-income. Although there are more white children who live in poverty, the percentage of Hispanic and African American children growing up in poverty still remains disproportionately high.
The term poverty is usually used to simply refer to a lack of money, but living in a state of financial instability is both physically and emotionally damaging. While a child who grows up in a middle class suburb is taught that he or she can go to college, marry, have a rewarding career, and make a meaningful contribution to the world at large, a child born into poverty must struggle to simply make it to adulthood or to stay out of jail. The long term effects of poverty are why this is a social crisis that deserves public attention and a well-designed blueprint for change.
Unfortunately, poverty becomes an obstacle to future success even before a child is born. Poor women are more likely to be uninsured and often delay seeking prenatal care. This places their babies at higher risk of premature birth and medical/developmental problems that can last well into adulthood. During those formative years, poor quality daycare can negatively impact a child’s emotional health. To add insult to injury, poor children are at a higher risk for receiving a substandard education and a child who does not learn to read and write proficiently will continue to struggle all the way to and through high school. With limited prospects for college and facing a lifetime of struggle, these children are subject to making poor decisions and will be significantly more likely to experiment with drugs, sex and alcohol and engage in unlawful activities.
I recommend that church, non-profit and community organizations utilize their weapons of mass construction and provide positive adult role models, summer camp experiences, academic instruction, and competitive sports, thus enhancing positive self-esteem. In order to prevail, the battle against poverty must be hard pressed on national and state levels with no withdrawal of troops until there is equality in education, jobs that provide a true living wage and assistance for parents struggling with addiction and mental health issues. Otherwise poor children will continue to be at a distinct disadvantage.
“At no time do we condone wrongness on either side of the wall”.
Richard P. Burton, Sr., Director
P.O. Box 440248, Jacksonville, FL 32244
Bus: 904-786-7883 Cell: 610-349-3358
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org http://projectreachinc.webs.com/
We provide event speakers and organize and facilitate criminal/juvenile justice forums.