The Unspoken Issue of Poverty in America

The Unspoken Issue of Poverty in America

Poverty has plagued American society for decades and programs continue to be developed to aid people suffering from it. A 2004 estimate by the US Census Bureau determined that 35.9 million Americans were living in poverty the previous year. Among them were 12.9 million children. Poverty’s greatest effects are felt by the innocent children who have to grow up in poverty-stricken families without adequate access to food, shelter, and/or health care. To make matters even worse, research has shown that people who grow up in poverty-stricken families tend to raise their own children in poverty.

Many different strategies have been used to deal with poverty. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society in the 1960s involved the creation of new, and expansion of old, programs designed to drag families suffering from poverty out from their situations into more fortunate ones. City slums were destroyed and educational and health programs were created to help families build new lives (Burger, Youkeles, 2004). Many of the 1960s programs are still in place and continue their mission to help families out of poverty.

Obviously, the Great Society programs failed to achieve their goal and poverty continues to be a major problem in the United States. New social programs have been created, but they, along with the older programs have been overburdened with huge caseloads of people suffering from poverty.

An assumption that is frequently made about poverty is that its elimination would eliminate the frequency of its negative effects. Among these negative effects are drug addiction, child abuse, child neglect, sex crime, and spousal abuse (Elgin, 2007). None of these effects are solely the result of poverty, but research has shown them to occur at higher rates in areas and families suffering from poverty. Increases in these negative effects lead to the creation of more social programs to try to deal with them and poverty.

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