Often when you think of poor children you often think of the grinding poverty you see in the third world or of images from the great depression. Poverty so visual it is difficult to be anything but that, but in thinking that way may mean you could easily miss the extent to which poverty still exists in the first world.
America’s Poor kids on BBC2 attempted to strip back the veneer of first world prosperity and to reveal a different world, a world of need, deprivation and depression through the eyes of the children trapped in situation not of their making
There was Kaylie in Iowa bouncing from a house her family could not afford to a motel, and back again to another house they could barely afford. Jonny stuck with his family in a Salvation Army shelter with ever constant threat of write-up’s constantly hanging over them. Write-ups given for infractions for any one of the myriad of shelter’s rules, go across a certain number and you’re evicted. Then there is little Sera stuck in a shelter in Tenderloin San Francisco, Tenderloin it turns out is anything but tender.
The story’s were all told by kids who were all remarkably articulate. They came across as coping as best as they can in a situation not of their making but in their interviews you could see some traces of resentment in what they perceive as their parents failure, certainly in the case of Kaylie and Sera. Both were in single parent household and touched upon their Moms not having made the right choices.
The real emotionally gripping aspect was when the children talked about the future, they still had dreams but the experience and the reality of the life they had lived had begun to encroach into those dreams.
They talked about breaking the cycle of poverty they find themselves in, of getting an education and getting jobs but they also talked about what happens to people who don’t escape poverty. It was in that you got the feeling they could see one possible and arguably an increasingly probable vision of their own future, a future slowly being shaped by their being trapped in a vortex of dwindling choices on education, housing and healthcare that poverty in America brings.
- The children going hungry in America (bbc.co.uk)
- Poverty in America: A problem hidden ‘In Plain Sight’ (inplainsight.nbcnews.com)
- This World: America’s Poor Kids, BBC Two, review (telegraph.co.uk)