Numerous misperceptions proliferate in contemporary society regarding the causes of poverty. Myths about this timeless dilemma abound. Bad economy and poor public education are often pointed at as root causes. Add to that is the ethnic issue when immigrants and minorities are thought to suffer more and neglected by majority of a certain culture. For instance, a common misperception is that a majority of the poor are African American inhabitants of inner cities.
Yet though blacks are overrepresented among the poor, they make up only about one-quarter of the poverty population (Dalaker, 2001). There is even a notion circulating that people are poor by choice; if they would just toil harder, they would have more. Welfare reform laws have taken this method by authorizing timelines for obtaining job and reducing or even getting rid of benefits for those who cannot fulfill or meet the terms. The supposition being that the poor ought to help themselves. The fact is, nearly half of the poor of working age work at least part-time.
William O’Hare illustrates this and other conventional myths, including the prevalent misperceptions that poor folks are trapped in a cycle of poverty that only some escape and that welfare programs are a major part of the federal budget (O’Hare, 1996). How can society then assist these individuals in shifting out of poverty? To start, it is necessary that we investigate and comprehend the underlying factors of poverty, and especially the different perceptions and misperceptions regarding this societal dilemma.
In a 2000 census, 33 million people existing in poverty in the United States at present, an overwhelming 89. 7% live in a family unit with at least one worker (US EEOC, 2002). Research into the details of such data implies only that having a job is not just the key to alleviating poverty. We have come to think of poverty all the time more in terms of disempowerment, in terms of lack of basic human rights. And by comparison, improvement of poverty reduction is linked to empowerment, to men, women, and children; to gaining better successful management over critical judgment in their personal lives.
Consequently, economics is an essential element of empowerment and income generation is crucial, but not by any means adequate. It is also imperative education, the application of effective citizenship that government and other authorities be held responsible and other components that complete a person that he or she will have a sense of full citizenship and to a degree a measure of control over their own lives (Bluestone ; Harrison, 2000).
The repercussions on the improper diagnosis of the causes leading to poverty usually lead also to inappropriate solutions applied both from a public policy perspective and on the individual level. Hence, the answer often depends on whether poverty is viewed mostly as an individual failing or as an outcome of bigger structural forces, comprising of economic restructuring, racial and gender discrimination, and social inequality. Poverty is the lone prevailing threat to the welfare of children and families.
Growing up in poverty can influence every area of a child’s growth – social, educational, and personal. As adults they are more prone to experience ill-health, be out of a job or dispossessed and to become caught up in criminal, drug and alcohol misuse and abusive relations. Another reason why a correct perception on the roots and effects of poverty must be upheld is that there are minimum biases and prejudices which cause rifts between low and high income families and societies.
Impoverished children and families have a lesser amount of everything – not solely money but assistance in every sphere of their lives and the long term consequences are overwhelming and yet preventable. Medical support, tax credits, increased minimum wage and affordable childcare programs can assist in overcoming barriers confronted by those in poverty (Tobin, 1967). It is easy to say, “Just get a job. ” Then again, this is a somewhat unrealistic approach to the very grave crisis of poverty.