We are all familiar with the outright effects of poverty on children (as well as adults): the possibility of limited access to food, proper shelter, clothing and quality education, to name a few. But as The Huffington Post’s Elaine Weiss recently reported, there may be another part of a child’s life that could be greatly impacted by continued subjection to poverty: their brain.
In her article, “The Toxic Toll of Child Poverty,” Weiss explores recent findings that suggest exposure to stress – particularly, toxic stress, which results from frequent exposure to abuse, neglect and violence – can have a lasting impact on the cognitive health of those subjected to it during their childhood.
It’s important to note that though not all children who live in poverty are exposed to stress, many are. Weiss states that parents living in poverty are limited to providing for their baby’s basic developmental needs such as reading and playtime, which in itself can upset brain growth. Children of poverty are also more likely to be affected by their parents’ lack of employment or low-paying job, unhealthy and unstable housing, food insecurity, and poor health – all of which are factors in extreme stress.
With one in five children living in poverty today, it is essential to continue the conversation on poverty and how it can affect generations – mentally, emotionally, and now, physically – to come.
(Read Elaine’s entire story, “The Toxic Toll of Child Poverty,” on The Huffington Post here.)