Although it is true that some adolescents manage to overcome the effects of living in poverty and become very successful adults , this is far from the norm. Poverty leads to social exclusion in the vast majority of occasions and this will negatively affect the full development of adolescents.
Growing up in poverty places teens at a serious disadvantage as they are trying to build the foundation for the rest of their lives. Parents, teachers, and concerned adults should try to understand the obstacles low-income teens face to help them reach their full potential.
Adolescents raised in poverty are vulnerable because their lives are full of emotional and social instability. Their parents often need to move to find housing, disrupting teens’ social interactions both in their schools and in the wider community.
Low-income teens are also more likely to struggle with depression, low self-esteem, and feelings of powerlessness compared to their peers from higher-income households. They struggle to understand how to display healthy and appropriate emotional responses to everyday situations, making it difficult to create strong friendships with peers or positive interactions with adult authority figures .
Poverty makes it difficult for teens to excel in school because poverty creates chronic stress that impairs attention and concentration . When teens focus on meeting basic needs and dealing with unstable lives at home, school work is often not a priority.
Low-income teens who work more than 20 hours per week to help their families show low educational aspirations and low educational attainment compared to their higher-income peers who work fewer hours. Adolescents living in poverty also have less access to adults who can assist with difficult school subjects or offer guidance on postsecondary educational options.
Poverty is strongly linked to teenage pregnancy. In the United States, the states with the highest percentage of adolescents living in poverty also have the highest proportion of births to single adolescent mothers .
Giving birth as a teenager makes it extremely difficult for a young mother to break the cycle of poverty and give her child a better life. In order to break this downward spiral of poverty, it is necessary for adolescent girls to receive the necessary support so that they continue to study despite their circumstances, because with a good educational base they will have many more opportunities than if they do not.
CRIME AND VIOLENCE
When adolescents living in poverty do not see a way to obtain legitimate employment, crime becomes an attractive alternative. They see it as a way to get things easily and if they “get caught”, they don’t feel like they have much to lose either … 20% of low-income teens have been charged with a crime before they turned 24, compared to just 12% of teens from high-income families.
In urban areas, adolescents living in poverty are tempted by gang members who promise income and a source of emotional support that they do not feel at home … so they get carried away and sometimes when they are inside A gang later has a hard time leaving it because they believe that their feeling of belonging is in the group or gang, but in reality they are only causing continuous problems and discomfort.