An invitation to express our concern… 305, 000 kiwi kids now live in poverty, by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

Poverty1

Has anyone seen these postcards around recently?   They are available in various places including churches, schools, libraries and charity-supporting organisations.  Basically the idea is that you write how you feel about recent statistics from the “NZ Child Poverty Monitor” on child poverty here in Aotearoa, New Zealand.  The postcards can then be sent (Freepost) to the poverty monitor, to gauge how we kiwis feel about the situation 29% of our tamariki are currently living in.  You can also download a PDF of them (and then write your comment) by going to :

http://www.childpoverty.co.nz/

The stats are sobering.  As mentioned above, 29% of New Zealand children currently live in situations which are officially classified as “poverty”… that’s 305,000 kiwi kids and just under one third of all kiwi kids.  Back in 1984 only 15% of tamariki were classified as being in this situation… just under half of the current number.  Some more statistics are below…

Poverty Collage

By expressing our opinions via these postcards, we can help give a voice to our most vulnerable children here in Aotearoa.  All too often we express our outrage upon hearing statistics such as these, even voicing them to others, before going back to our own lives and forgetting them. Flooding the “Child Poverty Monitor” with these postcards shows that we, the people of New Zealand, are concerned about this very important issue and it will also help keep Child Poverty in the spotlight.

I don’t believe in hiding the reality of Child Poverty in New Zealand (or anywhere else for that matter) from our children.  It doesn’t need to be pushed into their faces daily, but it is something which is having a major impact on their generation and will shape the society in which they will be adults– and not in a positive way.  From time to time my husband or I talk to  our four kids about  this and other issues shaping their world.  With regards to the postcards,  I felt it was actually quite important that our children do their own and express their views about this issue.   I would really encourage other parents to get their kids to do this– even pre-schoolers can understand the concept of poverty, if it is explained to them in an age appropriate way, and parents can write their children’s responses onto the post cards themselves if their children are too young to express themselves clearly in writing.  Pictures can “paint a thousand words” as they say too, the response could be a drawing.

Personally, I found it an interesting exercise, getting our kids to stop, think and then respond to this issue.  Of course, there is also the benefit of encouraging empathy and altruism in our children.  Anyway, I will paste our four  kids’ responses below:

Pov 2

Son age 10

Son age 8

Son age 8

Son age 6

Son age 6

Pov 1

Daughter age 5

My response…

Pov 5

Just to clarify, where I have written “regardless of the parents’ actions”, I am meaning that children in poverty should not be judged by why their parents are living in poverty. From time to time when I speak with people about child poverty here in Aotearoa, I hear responses such as, “well, what can you expect, the parents are on drugs/ on booze/ are ‘no hopers’/ caused their own poverty/ are lazy…”.  I love the line “it’s not choice”, as it epitomises what we here at “The Forever Years” use as our guiding statement… “through the eyes of a child”.  Regardless of how a child’s family has ended up in a situation of poverty (and there are so many different cases, we cannot use blanket, judgmental statements such as those above to describe them all), the results for the child are the same… a lack of basics needed for them to thrive and consequently, less opportunity.  Surely all children, here and around the world, are entitled to an equal “starting line”.  We have the resources in both our national and global communities to make this possible– if we put it as a priority and draw awareness to it, awareness by governments and by ordinary citizens.

Have your say, New Zealand about poverty here in Aotearoa and help your children to have theirs as well… it will affect them far more than us.

forever-years-icon

 

 

 

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