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The Effects of Poverty on Child Begging

Updated on January 7, 2015


One of the substantial themes related to child begging is poverty. In regions, countries and/or neighborhoods where destitute communities live, there are child beggars. Where child beggars are found, normally there is an impoverished community nearby. With this trend in mind, it leaves one to wonder, what is the significance of this link between poverty and child begging? Is it logical to really refer to these two items in the same sentence? Or, can child begging occur without poverty being a factor and/or cause?

This article will examine why poverty and child begging are often seemed to be linked. Furthermore, the effects of poverty and child begging will be debated by looking to see whether or not both items are dependent upon one other. This will be done with the aspiration that the world come to a better understanding why child begging occurs, why the known cases of child begging are happening, and most importantly, what can be done to resolve these issues.

What is Poverty?

For most people, poverty is defined by a group of individuals who economically cannot participate in society. For example, the average person might see the slums in their city as an example of poverty because all the buildings are run down, crime is the only source of income, and even then, most of the people there can't afford to purchase clothing, food or proper housing for themselves and/or their families.

From an economic vantage point, poverty can be defined according to how much a family and/or individual is making per year and/or per day. For example, a family of eight surviving at $40,000 a year or below, or an individual surviving at $11,000 a year in the Washington, DC area is considered to be living in poverty. A person living in the developing or under-developed world earning $2 a day, is considered to be living in poverty. If a person is earning $1 a day or less, than he or she is living at or below the poverty line.

These days, however, poverty is defined by more than economic standards. The reason why is because poverty has become more than an economic issue, but a social, political, even health issue. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines poverty as the inaccessibility, sometimes even the blatant undermining, of basic human needs such as health, habitation, education, and hygiene. Therefore, poverty in this context, refers to the social phenomena, not the individual disadvantaged by economic standards. Economics is one way to look at poverty, and most people who experience this phenomena, are economically disadvantaged as well.

The reason why an individual and/or family becomes poor is very complex. Sometimes it is the economic environment the individual and/or family lives in; sometimes it is the individual and/or family's poor financial judgement, or it could even be because that individual and/or family is restricted from accessing certain rights within the state, that could lead to a higher income. Nonetheless, poverty refers to a collection of individuals impacted by economic, social and political marginalization on a grand scale, NOT the individual. Therefore, a community living in poverty is economically, socially, and political incredibly poor in comparison to one that is rich, sustainable, and stable on an economic, political and social level.

The Affects of Poverty On The State

A community that lives in poverty normally has limited or no access to health care, proper nutrition, education, economic opportunities, proper accommodation, political participation and a proper quality of life as a whole. If enough individuals within a state of living within poverty, it can affect the state's ability to grow politically, economically and socially. The reason why is because the state will not have enough individuals working in economic sectors that will produce a household income and help pay taxes for the state's needs, a lack of human capital to make these jobs a reality, not enough healthy people to work to keep the state going, and no one with the economic ability or training to create jobs. This, in return, will cause the state to experience conflict, because of the marginality that will exist within this society. Those who live in poverty potentially might place pressure on the state to insure that they receive proper treatment, but also access to much needed jobs and financial opportunities. This pressure could be executed through violent conflict at the most extreme. There is also the potential that the affects of poverty will stretch to other parts of the country, including those involved with the state, enough to where the state will dissolve automatically and will reach a state of anarchy.

Therefore, poverty can become a serious problem for the state if not resolved. Furthermore, if one state crumbles because of poverty, it could affect other states. Let's say, for example, North Korea, whose state is slowly crumbling because of many issues, including the extreme poverty in the countryside. Much of the poverty that has occurred in North Korea, is a result of the fall of the Soviet Union, which was a major economic trading power. Unlike China, North Korea never adopted a capitalist trading model to adapt to the loss of the Soviet Union, and other major trading partners during the height of the Communist Era. As a result, North Korea has seen considerable drops in manufacturing production and economic wealth. It is estimated that about 46% or more of North Korea's rural population lives in poverty, and nothing is being done about it. Instead, many refugees flea to China and South Korea in the hopes of obtaining a better life, despite the risks of being taken back to North Korea and executed if caught. Therefore, the poverty issue for North Korea is turning into an international problem, because of the dangers and legal issues refugees face when they cross the border to China and South Korea. The Chinese government is concerned that if the North Korean state does crumble, that an influx of refugees will overwhelm China's already over-populated state. Therefore, even though China cannot handle the refugees that are coming in from North Korea, and because China is North Korea's only trading partner, the Chinese state recognizes North Korea's law that all those who flee are enemies of the state, and therefore need to be returned and dealt with. Humanitarian groups did distribute food in the late 1990s to help with the famine issues in North Korea, however, most of that food was distributed to the state and not to those most in need, which are women, children, and the elderly living in rural areas.

The Links of Child Begging and Poverty

So, how does poverty relate to the issues of child begging? The link between child begging and poverty is very simple: most of the children who end up begging come from communities affected by poverty. Take, for example, the Talibes of Senegal. These children come from very poor families, and are sent to daaras to study the Qu'ran with the hopes that they will become religious leaders in their community. The daara masters themselves, known as marabout, have no source of income and therefore, make their students, known as Talibes, beg in Senegalese streets in order to make an income for them. Many poor families in Senegal, India and Bangladesh have been known to send their children begging instead of to school, or to work, because the parents cannot earn an income. Poverty is also linked to organized crime and conflict, which unfortunately, many instances of child begging and child prostitution are organized by criminal organizations. For example, child prostitutes who are trafficked around the world, including the United States, are Shanghaied by an international mafia-like group that makes money from the illicit sex trade. In Bangladesh, children are often abducted by criminal organizations, and forced to beg if the child's parents owes a debt to a member of the criminal organization. Most of these children already come from impoverished families living in very poor communities; this is also true of the individuals involved in these organized criminal groups, who claim to serve their impoverished communities, but in reality are taking advantage of the poverty that exists in order to obtain wealth for themselves.

How Can the Links Between Child Begging and Poverty Be Broken?

The issue of poverty itself is a very overwhelming international problem that covers more than just marginalized economic wealth and profit for various communities. Poverty is unfortunately a way of life many do not choose to live, but HAVE to live. Therefore, in order to stop poverty, you have to target the issues that make poverty possible in the first place. For example, most adults who live in poverty are in a community and born to a family where economic opportunities do not exist. Therefore, efforts need to be made to make sure these adults can find jobs. If they can't find jobs, they need to create jobs. However, in order to do this, you would need to create educational and training programs to prepare these adults for the workplace. This way, the children can focus on their education and childhood rather than end up as victims of child begging.

Preventing a child from being Shanghaied into the illicit sex trade and/or begging is a little bit more complicated to resolve. However, one step towards resolving this issue could be in helping adults find economic alternatives to criminal activity. For the adults already active in criminal activity who cannot reform, need to be punished for their crimes.

So who will help these adults living in poverty find jobs and/or get the training they need to create jobs? The most logical answer is for special interest groups and non-profits to focus on programs to help these issues escape poverty. In the meantime, while the international community are helping these adults, they should make sure to help provide basic needs such as clothing, food and medical care to these communities. Furthermore, special interest groups and non-profits should work closely with the national governments that are connected to these communities to come up with programs to make it easier for the adults, in particular, to get the training and assistance they need to begin working, earning an income and have access to proper medical care. These efforts should also be connected towards universal education policies for children, so that they can learn the skills and knowledge they need to obtain a career and discontinue the horrid cycle of poverty within the state they are associated with.

The international community already has efforts to help alleviate poverty around the world. However, like with most issues related to the United Nations, it takes a long time for the positive changes to occur basically because of generalized guidelines not being enforced in states with the most need. Therefore, states with the most need are in want of assistance with eradicating poverty, or at least, to control issues related to poverty within the state. How they can get this help is through that of non-profits, special interest groups and those at the grassroots level by creating resourceful programs and by incorporating tactful humanitarian aid programs. Even though these efforts can help alleviate not only poverty, but also child begging, the issues of targeting child begging might take singular initiatives still to rectify it. After all, even though poverty and child begging are linked at this point in time, there are other aspects that help to explain why child begging occurs. Therefore, it's going to take more than resolving poverty around the world to make child begging go away.

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