Open discussion held to address children in poverty

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A 60 Minutes special about children living in poverty called “Hard Times Generation: Homeless Kids” is presented to students at the TSU on Tuesday. ELEONOR SEGURA / Daily Titan
A 60 Minutes special about children living in poverty called “Hard Times Generation: Homeless Kids” is presented to students at the TSU on Tuesday.

Two million children are living in poverty just in California alone.

Tuesday at the Titan Student Union, the Diversity Education Initiatives presented an open discussion about children and poverty in America. The discussion also covered multiple meanings of poverty and the misconceptions about people who live in poverty.

During the presentation, a case study was shown to those who attended the discussion.

Dear Aunaetitrakul, a graduate student and staff member, led the discussion.

The official definition of poverty is when a family’s income fails to meet a federally established threshold that differs across countries, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

According to the 2010 Census survey, one out of every three children in poverty live in California, Florida, Texas and New York, the four most populated states.

More than 15.7 million children in the U.S. live in poverty, according to the American Community Survey conducted in 2010, which translates to one in five children.

“I feel empathy for the children and their family,” Angie Bao, 22, a business major, said.

One of the main topics discussed in the diversity dialogue was how poverty can affect a child’s brain development and emotional health.

In a recent study about how poverty can affect a child’s brain function, 145 children of different levels of wealth and impoverishment were tested by having their brain scanned with an MRI machine. The study showed that if a child lives in poverty, two key brain structures tend to be smaller. These areas are linked to emotional health, memory and learning.

During the presentation Aunaetitrakul also talked about playing the “blame game,” which is what she believes society does when children are exposed to poverty or unsatisfactory living conditions.

“It’s always easier to play that blame game,” Aunaetitrakul said. “The blame game has to stop because it’s not anyone’s fault.”

Another topic discussed was the difference between generational and situational poverty. Generational poverty is something that affects more than one generation of a family, compared to situational poverty, which deals with a situation that is temporary.

“This discussion affects everyone, it’s not just the children,” Aunaetitrakul said. “In some way, shape or form, we as members of the community, of an overall community, we do have the responsibility.”

One of the questions Aunaetitrakul asked the group of students was how they believed people became poor or how they became impoverished. The consensus among the students was that the economy and job market affected families which in turn affected the children.

“When you’re working with children sometimes all they need is the word care,” Aunaetitrakul said. “Someone to care for them.”

Several results of poverty affect everyone around the world, including sex trafficking, Aunaetitrakul said. In other countries it is common for parents to sell their children into slave work or working as a sex slave.

“I feel like I know more about the topic of poverty,” Miriah Harris, 21, childhood development major, said. “The video really opened my eyes about how many kids grow up in poverty each year.”

The campus will hold a Hunger Awareness week Nov. 19 to Nov. 26. During that week there will be another discussion about poverty, hunger and those who are affected.

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