Food alone is not going to fix problem
ACCORDING to Professor Jane Callaghan, director of child wellbeing and protection at Stirling University, poverty seeps into and damages many areas of children’s learning and development.
“Food poverty has implications if children are under-nourished or poorly nourished; there are knock-on effects for brain development,” she says. “But food alone is not going to fix it.”
She paints a disturbing picture of poverty depriving children of toys and play facilities to develop emotional and motor skills, and the impact of time-poor parents gripped by depression that saps their ability to support their children even when they want to.
“Families don’t have a lot of money to provide activities during holidays, or good-quality play equipment. That has a negative impact because play is one of the most important things for childhood development,” she adds.
The stress of poverty is also an issue. “In-work poverty produces precarious circumstances for parents. That has an impact on parenting practices: the more stressed you are, the harder it is to be emotionally responsive to children.”
Poverty can lead to a lack of aspiration, she continues. “A lot of families in poverty really value education. But if we don’t pay enough attention to poverty and social equality issues, we are just putting a Band-Aid over the problems.”