Scientific studies have well documented the effect of a lower income environment on children’s cognitive abilities; the effects of a stressful life related to hunger, decreased access to health care, and the feeling of being different from their peers can delay, interrupt and sometimes prevent the healthy development of a child’s brain. In an article written by Noel King, for Marketplace Economy, Dr. Elizabeth Sowell, one of the neuroscientists at the Brain Research Institute at University of California, Los Angeles, who designed a study on the correlation between socioeconomic status and brain development stated, “We’ve known for a long time, from many studies, that children from lower socio-economic backgrounds have more difficulties in school. They don’t do as well in cognitive tests. They have lots of problems. We’ve known that for a long time, it’s been documented in scientific literature.” Sowell’s research is related to measuring the actual surface area of children’s brains, she states, “If you look at the children whose families made $25,000 a year or less, their brain surface area was about 6 percent smaller than the families who made $150,000 a year or more.”
King said that Dr. Sowell is “…quick to note that is on average. Some children from upper-income households had brains similar in size to their lower-income peers and vice versa.”
Sowell states, “… growing up in poverty puts children at a disadvantage, and now there’s evidence that it is a physical disadvantage. I think that what this study has done is shown that there’s an actual physical link with the brain. I want this work to be an impetus to really say, ‘What are we doing with our money?'”
This is one scientist and one article; literature on this subject is vast. Nurturing children through their earliest years is vitally important; the beginning years of a child’s life have a lasting impact on everything in their life. From birth to five sets the stage for scholastic achievement, earned income, social skills, and the possible risk of entering the criminal justice system. Alexander Busansky at the National Council on Crime and Delinquency stated, “ Because the effects of poverty often take hold early in life, targeting resources based on a family’s risk level can make a big difference in child welfare.”
I want this work to be an impetus to really say, ‘What are we doing with our money?'”
Using money wisely to assist children in families struggling to survive will have the greatest impact on how our society evolves. Scientists are proving, with evidence-based studies, that when and where we allocate tax dollars… changes the trajectory of our civilization. The choice is ours to make: spend money to assist families to provide for and nurture a productive individual or spend money for decades to come…trying to correct the physical and emotional deficits that poverty creates. I grew up hearing, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” I fervently advocate using our resources for prevention. Our children will flourish and civilization will prosper.