Child poverty – it’s everyone’s problem
You may have noticed there is an election coming up. Amidst all of the mudslinging we continue to hear the words ‘‘child poverty’’ being thrown about like a hot potato that very few want to catch.
Most of us are comfortable enough not to know what poverty really looks like. Others are all too familiar with its harsh, cold, empty and soul-destroying reality.
There’s no doubt that many families are finding it really tough right now. We all recognise that our country has to live within its means but there are also human aspects of our current society which are plainly wrong.
The working poor – hard working families with full time equivalent incomes who cannot make ends meet – is a new reality. In our country of plenty, in the land of milk and honey, we are seeing hard working parents unable to afford to feed their kids, to buy them shoes, to heat their home.
Unable to afford the basics of life: this is the soul-destroying reality of poverty.
As reported by the Child Poverty Action Group, decades of widening income disparity between rich and poor in New Zealand is having the biggest impact on the victims who have no blame whatsoever: children.
If sectors of our society remain entrenched in poverty, children’s physical and mental health will continue to suffer and intergenerational cycles of abuse will carry on.
You may think ‘‘ not my problem’’ but there you would be wrong – the social and economic costs to our country of one in four children growing up in poverty are huge. It’s everyone’s problem. Nigel Latta’s thought provoking television series, currently running on TV One, is at least highlighting some of these issues and keeping them in the news. If you have missed any of the programmes, including on our economy, alcohol abuse and family violence, check them on demand via the TVNZ website. They are well worth a watch. Reducing financial stress, providing accessible healthcare, quality homes, valuing parenting and providing parental support, especially in the early years, are really important issues facing our country right now.
Where do the political parties and our local MPs and candidates stand on these issues? In particular where do they stand on taking part in cross party talks after the election to reach long term solutions to child poverty?
I’ll finish with a quote from the late, great Nelson Mandela who said: ‘‘Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is manmade and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation.’’
In other words, solutions are within everyone’s sphere of influence and the time to start is now.