***Post submitted by Bob Bayuk, Northwest Representative for WSPA***

The some of the following information was gathered from the APA Deep Poverty Initiative.

Falling Below the Poverty Line

Deep poverty is defined as a state in which an individual household’s annual income falls below 50 percent of the poverty line. The associations between poverty and indicators of behavioral, mental, and physical health are well documented by psychological research spanning several decades.

More Than 18.5 million People

The United States is the wealthiest nation in the world and, yet, continues to have areas of poverty in much of the country. Today, more than 18.5 million people in the U.S. live in deep poverty. In September 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau recorded the highest level of extreme poverty since it began tracking the metric in the mid-1970s.

Public Perception

Perceptions of people living in poverty by others often attribute poverty to personal failings and poor decision making rather than structural, systemic contributors. The just world hypothesis states that people believe that the world is basically fair, so people get what they deserve. This leads to an individualistic, victim-blaming discourse, touting deviant behaviors, laziness, and poor decision making as major causes of poverty.

Structural Factors

Public policies, government funding, and reforms to safety-net programs have come to increasingly reflect these stereotypes, for example the increasing imposition of work requirements in programs assisting with medical care, nutrition and housing. Continued erosion of these programs would put tens of millions of Americans’ well-being at risk.

As we head to our jobs each day, as we engage with our customers (kids and their families) each day, we must be fully aware of both our status and theirs.  What causes us to view the world a certain way and what causes some kids to view the world in some way are often different.  Our world and our perceptions are shaped by our background, how we were raised.  Keep these differences in mind as we seek to make sense of behaviors, attitudes, beliefs and motives of the kids we seek to help and guide toward success in school.