First, watch this video (thanks to Blair Miller for sharing it with me) and decide whether you agree with its premise.

A Bird’s Eye View of Child Poverty in BC from s j on Vimeo.

Now ask yourself, are we doing enough in BC to reduce child poverty? What else could we be doing?

I live in a part of Vancouver where I see poverty every day. I’m only a few blocks from the downtown East side, and from the place in our city where the worst poverty makes itself evident, Main and Hastings. Whenever I walk through, or drive through, that part of town, I  see hundreds of people whose lives are obviously difficult, and who struggle each day with addiction, and finding enough to eat and drink. One thing I wonder now is, where are their children?

The children of the people living in the slums of Vancouver should not be held accountable for any poor decisions of their parents, but as a society, we shame them everyday. They are shamed at school by their peers, where bullying of people who are poor is rampant. They are shamed when they are excluded from participating in the events that happen in our society. We treat them poorly in so many ways, when they already experience so much grief in their own lives. Eventually, they will grow up, and many of them will take the places of their parents on the streets. In fact, because of the strong cyclical nature of poverty, one could argue that the people who end up in poverty later in life are not there because of they made poor choices… but instead of poor choices made by society at large.

If we recognize that the poor children today will likely become the poor adults of tomorrow, shouldn’t we do everything in our power to prevent this from happening? Whether or not you agree that this is a moral issue, and one which our society is, in general, handling very poorly, you must recognize that the economic consequences for our society are enormous. For example, my mother worked as a paramedic in Vancouver for a while, and she always said that 90% of her calls when she worked downtown were from people with repeat health problems caused by the side-effects of poverty. If we are willing to spend so much money cleaning up the problem, why aren’t we willing to spend more preventing it from happening in the first place?

Education is supposed to be a way out of poverty, but instead of investing heavily in education, our country is building more prisons and fighter jets. We have our priorities completely wrong as a society. Instead of electing people who would slash education funding in an effort to reduce taxes, we should be looking for politicians who will invest in education, and invest in the social programs which are proven to reduce the effects of child poverty.

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