Nearly one quarter of all children in the United States live in poverty, according to the Foundation for Child Development, a non-profit organization that studies why some children are disadvantaged.
Kids who live below the poverty line, even for a short period of time, can suffer longterm setbacks even if their families regain their economic footing, says Ruby Takanishi, president of the foundation.
“This is especially true for children during their first decade of life,” says Takanishi. “This means that, even if the recession subsides soon, the effects on these children will not.”
“Poverty changes so much for a child,” says Sally Moffat, director of the Injury Prevention Center at Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH).
The knowledge and resources that help prevent injury can change that. Awareness is key.
Here are some of the factors that affect the risk for childhood injuries in a tight economy:
Using secondhand or hand-me-down car seats
Families may try to save money by using secondhand car seats, or by keeping children in seats that they have outgrown. Putting a child in the wrong seat may not keep them safe.
PCH, in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, now offers “Children are Priceless Passengers” program, a class about the correct use of car seats. The class includes a car seat and safety check. To register for a class (cost is $25), call 602-546-2277. More on car seat and booster seat guidelines.
Child abuse and neglect
Poverty is a major risk factor for child maltreatment and neglect. Greater family stress, inadequate daycare, and unsafe housing are all factors that contribute to increase child neglect.
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The wisdom of former RAK writer and veteran preschool teacher Susan Cedar, M.C., L.P.C., helps parents cope with frustration and power struggles with toddlers and preschoolers.
Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s “Shaken Baby Prevention Project” provides information about the dangers of shaking babies, including tips for calming a crying baby and ways to cope with parental stress.
A recent USA Swimming report highlighted reduced opportunities for inner-city children to learn to swim. Economic slowdown has lead to reduced hours and the closing of public pools, as well as reduced lifeguard staffing.
PCH’s “Water Watchers” program provides free purple ribbons throughout the state, to highlight drowning dangers in August, as part of Drowning Impact Awareness Month. St. Joseph’s Hospital offers swim lessons for kids in downtown Phoenix (For additional information or to register call their ResourceLink at 1-877-602-4111.)
Decreases in pre-kindergarten enrollment, an increase in risky behaviors among adolescents and a continued rise in the obesity rate as parents rely on cheap food lacking in nutrients also may threaten the well-being of children during a recession, according to the Foundation.