Rising Child Poverty Could Increase Future Crime Rates

Rising Child Poverty Could Increase Future Crime Rates

Rising Child Poverty Could Increase Future Crime Rates

As the number of children living in poverty rises, national law enforcement groups are worried that crime rates will rise as these children become adults. A group comprised of over 5,000 prosecutors, police chiefs and sheriffs from all over the country known as Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, are pushing for programs to help these children to continue to receive funding. Many federal and state programs are being cut as politicians look for ways to lower the national deficit. However, the more children living in poverty that go without help, the more likely they are to turn to crime as adults.

These programs offer special early care for young children with parents who are unable to provide proper care for them. Other programs focus on helping struggling kids focus on their education. Without the proper skills learned through education, young adults often have no choice but petty crime to survive. Keeping programs for poverty-stricken children running will lower crime rates in the future and cutting them isn’t worth the trouble that it will cause later.

Reports show that nearly 1 million new children are now living in poverty with families struggling to keep them clothed and fed. The director of the Fight Crime: Invest in Kids group also pointed out that research directly showed a connection between educational and care programs and lower crime rates when the kids became adults. Studies have shown that $10 or more is saved in reduced crime and prison costs for every dollar used to fund these programs. Keeping young adults out of prison also has a great social impact that is harder to measure in monetary terms.

The rising rate of child poverty was captured by the most recent U.S. Census Bureau information. During 2010, almost 1 million minors lived in households that had sunk below the poverty line since the last census survey. For the first time in history, more than 25% of all children below 6 live in poverty. This high poverty rate has a very detrimental on children because they fall behind in education and feel helpless as they grow up. Special attention helps these children develop useful skills and learn what they need to enter the job market despite the challenges at home. A group of 600 law enforcement officials went to Congress earlier this year to urge lawmakers to keep child poverty programs intact.

While helping adults in poverty is complicated by potential drug abuse, mental health issues and other problems, helping children find success as they grow up is easier. However, as the recession worsens, more children are in need of this help. Criminal justice research has shown that childhood poverty is one of the biggest causes of adult criminal behavior. The younger the children are when they receive help from a anti-poverty program, the better the results. In most cases all that is needed is extra help through tutoring and encouragement through mentoring. This is enough for many children to feel good about themselves despite their poverty status.

Short increases in poverty levels have been shown to have little effect on adult crime, but growing up in poverty is a different story. Children with struggling parents commit more crimes than those with abusive parents or that take in violent media. With children the most vulnerable group to poverty, the country will have to act fast if it doesn’t want to experience a sharp increase in crime when the 25% of children under age 6 all become young adults who feel like theft and assault is their only choice.

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