The Effects of Growing Up Under the Poverty Line on Latina Youth

By Jacob Balsam.

Imagine for a second that you are a 12-year-old Latina sitting with your mother watching television when a man attempts to smash your window to break into your house and steal your belongings. Unfortunately for one anonymous Latina youth, this was not a hypothetical scenario.

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center using data from the 2010 census, three out of ten Latinos are living below the poverty line. Regrettably, because of the increase of the number of Latinos living below the poverty line, situations like the anonymous Latina youth’s are becoming more common. Growing up in poverty stricken areas can lead to other long-term problems that are not based in crime.

Children from lower income families are at risk of developing higher levels antisocial behavior than children from houses with a higher annual income, according to an article from Science Daily. Research also suggests that the antisocial behavior will increase over time if the child remains in a house with a lower level of income.

Poverty not only affects behavior, but can also influence classroom performance. Research  by Eric Jensen suggests children from low socio-economic status household’s brains have adapted to living in poverty in such a way that it negatively impacts their education. Children are less likely to receive the emotional support in low-income areas they need to develop a healthy attitude toward education.

However, there is hope. Jensen claims there is a large opportunity during a child’s time spent at school to undergo a significant transformation in their attitude toward learning. While it’s true that we as a country may not be able to do anything about a Latino’s home life living below the poverty level, we can and should do something about the educational system to ensure that every opportunity is given to them so that they have the ability to change their future and the future of their own family.