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Frontline - Children in Poverty
Old 11-21-2012, 06:57 PM   #1
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Frontline - Children in Poverty

Did anyone watch Frontline last night? The subject was children living in poverty and the show followed the trials and tribulations of several families. Heart wrenching.

My mother was separated from my father (a drunk) by the time I was 2 and my sister was an infant. No family lived close and my father moved out of state to avoid paying child support so she had to figure it out on her own. We lived very, very close to the edge for many years but thankfully we were never homeless. The sliding scale at the United Way funded daycare we attended was critical to enabling my mom to work full-time.

At 25% of children living in poverty, the US is second only to Romania in the developed world for childhood poverty. I don't know what the answer is but it seems children in this rich country should at least have a place to live (no frills) and enough food to eat.
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:04 PM   #2
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I don't know what the answer is but it seems children in this rich country should at least have a place to live (no frills) and enough food to eat.
To meet your goal (which we all share, I'm sure) would often require taking the children from their "custodial" parent (which we tend to resist mightily in this country). Lack of opportunities, available resources and programs are often not the problem.
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:13 PM   #3
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To meet your goal (which we all share, I'm sure) would often require taking the children from their "custodial" parent (which we tend to resist mightily in this country). Lack of opportunities, available resources and programs are often not the problem.
I agree the first option looks like snatching them all up and housing them somewhere with adequate food, etc. Of course, we all know that doesn't work. Kids put up with things more horrific than homelessness because they want to stay with their parents and families.
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:21 PM   #4
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Yes, I saw most of it. It was so sad. In particular, i was sad about the girl in the very last scene, telling about how she imagined her future if they kept moving around so she could never get an education. She guessed she'd have to live in a box and steal from stores. Then she said sweetly that she really didn't want to steal. She hoped to go to school and get a really good job. She reminded me so much of on of my granddaughters, that I wished I could go snatch her up and bring her home. She was such a sweet girl.

I didn't hear the backgrounds of the parents, but in her case she said her mom never pays the rent, so they have to keep moving.
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:45 PM   #5
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Yes, I saw most of it. It was so sad. In particular, i was sad about the girl in the very last scene, telling about how she imagined her future if they kept moving around so she could never get an education. She guessed she'd have to live in a box and steal from stores. Then she said sweetly that she really didn't want to steal. She hoped to go to school and get a really good job. She reminded me so much of on of my granddaughters, that I wished I could go snatch her up and bring her home. She was such a sweet girl.

I didn't hear the backgrounds of the parents, but in her case she said her mom never pays the rent, so they have to keep moving.
Yes, she was such a sweet girl. Amazingly so for one who has experienced so much trauma at such a young age. It really broke my heart to hear her say those things and, like you, I just wanted to grab her up and bring her home.

I wish her mom would get her into school even if it was only going to be a short time in that location. At least she could get two meals per day and not be losing out on her education. Totally broke my heart. People with more money than they can spend in many lifetimes and then children without the basics. She was just unlucky enough to be born into this particular family.
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:53 PM   #6
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What was the problem with her mom? Was she not able to find a job? Even the little girl liked to "work" in the hotel office. She looked like she had more initiative than her mom. But then I didn't see the beginning.

I need to add that when my two kids were 1and 4, I was divorced with no job, no child support and it was hard. I had to share my house with another divorced teacher who paid 1/2 the bills. She taught and I went back to finish college with a student loan. My kids went to child care with government assistance. So I know his hard it can be. This is why I ended up working for nearly 30 years at the Childcare program once I finished college. It meant the world to us.

This is why I am am impatient and sad when I see children living like this.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:05 PM   #7
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What was the problem with her mom? Was she not able to find a job? Even the little girl liked to "work" in the hotel office. She looked like she had more initiative than her mom. But then I didn't see the beginning.
Unlike the other families, I didn't see any info about this mom. Obviously, she didn't want to be a part of the documentary. If the child can at least get into school regularly, she'll have half a chance to make it in life. So many kids feel like they "have" to go to shool every day. This child is aching to go to school and understands how important it is to her future. Mature far beyond her years.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:09 PM   #8
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I edited my earlier reply. I thought I might sound too harsh without reason, but I've been a divorced parent with two kids.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:12 PM   #9
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I watched the program and certainly felt a great deal of compassion for the children. The parents are another story - it's hard to feel bad for adults who continue to make a series of bad decisions.

For instance, how did the contractor and his wife (from Chicago I think) manage to go from making $5k, $6k or $7k on a job (their words not mine) and then find themselves losing their house. I know we're talking about the kids here but the parents are the problem. Another set of parents could barely afford to support the family as it was then finds they're having another child. What's up with that? Once again, it's not the fault of the children but I can't believe people live like this.

Rather than consider providing shelter and food for the children I think we should send the parents to bootcamp where they learn the meaning of discipline, saving, investing and personal responsibility - there should be no cable TV, no extra electronic gadgets, no unlimited cell phone plans, etc. until you have money in the bank to cover unexpected periods of unemployment and unplanned expenses and repairs.

All of these parents should be required to read (and pass a test) on the topics discussed in The Richest Man in Babylon. That book has plenty of good information regarding responsibility for individuals and families as well as improving your skills to make yourself marketable in a wide variety of situations. I realize it's only a book but there is plenty to learn from those parables.

Okay, I'll relinquish the soap box...
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:17 PM   #10
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I agree with most of what you say. The parents seem less focused and disciplined than some of their children.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:53 PM   #11
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I agree with most of what you say. The parents seem less focused and disciplined than some of their children.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:57 PM   #12
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I watched some of it and just saw people with limited education making poor life choices so the result was no surprise. I would have hoped our social and education system was putting out a better product. I'm sure I missed the portion where a family was just a victim of bad circumstances.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:59 PM   #13
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I watched the program and certainly felt a great deal of compassion for the children. The parents are another story - it's hard to feel bad for adults who continue to make a series of bad decisions.

For instance, how did the contractor and his wife (from Chicago I think) manage to go from making $5k, $6k or $7k on a job (their words not mine) and then find themselves losing their house. I know we're talking about the kids here but the parents are the problem. Another set of parents could barely afford to support the family as it was then finds they're having another child. What's up with that? Once again, it's not the fault of the children but I can't believe people live like this.

Rather than consider providing shelter and food for the children I think we should send the parents to bootcamp where they learn the meaning of discipline, saving, investing and personal responsibility - there should be no cable TV, no extra electronic gadgets, no unlimited cell phone plans, etc. until you have money in the bank to cover unexpected periods of unemployment and unplanned expenses and repairs.

All of these parents should be required to read (and pass a test) on the topics discussed in The Richest Man in Babylon. That book has plenty of good information regarding responsibility for individuals and families as well as improving your skills to make yourself marketable in a wide variety of situations. I realize it's only a book but there is plenty to learn from those parables.

Okay, I'll relinquish the soap box...
Like you, I didn't feel the least bit of sympathy for the parents. Bad decisions over and over again. And a new baby? WTF? "I don't believe in abortion or adoption." You could just hear their other 2 kids thinking, "You can't support us! What are you doing having another baby?"
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Old 11-21-2012, 09:04 PM   #14
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Rather than consider providing shelter and food for the children I think we should send the parents to bootcamp where they learn the meaning of discipline, saving, investing and personal responsibility - there should be no cable TV, no extra electronic gadgets, no unlimited cell phone plans, etc. until you have money in the bank to cover unexpected periods of unemployment and unplanned expenses and repairs. ....
Agreed. I'm all for providing safety nets, but if they are for people who are capable, but not living up to their potential, well then that support should have some strings attached. And they should be geared towards making them independent.

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Old 11-21-2012, 09:28 PM   #15
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Agreed. I'm all for providing safety nets, but if they are for people who are capable, but not living up to their potential, well then that support should have some strings attached. And they should be geared towards making them independent.

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Yes, the big question is how do we feed, house and educate the children who were unlucky enough to be born to idiot parents without rewarding the adults for poor choices. I guess that's been the question for a long time and still no one, at least in the country, has the answer. Maybe we are asking the wrong question.

The scary thing about the families they picked for the documentary was that nothing particularly extraordinary had happened to them to put them in their current predicament. No crazy diseases that bankrupted solidly middle class families or anything like that. I'm sure the economic realities of the last few years pushed quite a few families over the edge that had been hanging on in spite of all their less than stellar choices.
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Old 11-21-2012, 10:51 PM   #16
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In the case of the pregnant parents not "believing" in adoption, I found it very interesting that the daughter knew they didn't have enough money for food for now, and certainly not for diapers. She seemed more concerned about finances than they did.
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Old 11-22-2012, 06:32 AM   #17
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I have seen children eating grass in third world countries because they were hungry. US children are lucky to be living in the wealthiest nation on this planet, even if social disparities are huge.

Every child, no matter where they live, should be fed, sheltered and loved.

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At 25% of children living in poverty, the US is second only to Romania in the developed world for childhood poverty. I don't know what the answer is but it seems children in this rich country should at least have a place to live (no frills) and enough food to eat.
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Old 11-22-2012, 07:51 AM   #18
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I did not watch the Frontline program, but I have seen other programs in recent years (segments on 60 Minutes, Bill Moyers, to name two) which have highlighted similarly dire situations. But, as others have pointed out here, I have been stunned by some poor planning decisions such has having more children when already stretched financially.

In a Bill Moyers segment originally aired last January but rerun in the last month or so, Moyers, in an interview with Paul Pierson and Jacob Hacker, authors of the book, "Winner-Take-All Politics," showed the June 2011 testimony of a well-spoken, middle-class Iowa woman before a Senate sub-committee about how the economic downturn has affected her and her family. However, in the video clip (and from what I could gather from the entire transcript I looked up on line later), she and her husband had to take a considerable pay cut in the middle of the 2010-2011 school year. But she then said in her testimony that "We have a 5 year-old son Benen and our second child is due in December." This means she got pregnant around March of 2011, several months after her household took their big pay cut. WTF! All the sympathy I had for disappeared after she said this.

Worsening one's financial picture is not limited to poor people. Struggling middle-class people are just as capable at doing that, too.
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Old 11-22-2012, 07:52 AM   #19
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In the case of the pregnant parents not "believing" in adoption, I found it very interesting that the daughter knew they didn't have enough money for food for now, and certainly not for diapers. She seemed more concerned about finances than they did.
Usually children are the ones engaging in 'magical thinking' but in this case it was the mother. The children had realistically concluded there was no way to properly care for the baby (and it was going to be even worse for them now) due to lack of resources.
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Old 11-22-2012, 08:04 AM   #20
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Some tough comments around here. Please kindly remember that many of these mothers do not have the education most of us here have, nor access to medical information, nor adequate contraception. Let alone AB choices.

If there is a failure somewhere, it is our collective, societal failure to educate younger generations.
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