Childhood Hunger and Structural-Functionalism Theory
In this essay, I have discussed about childhood hunger. I have described how poverty, hunger, and lack of education play a major role in childhood hunger. I have tried to link low income, nutrition and education with childhood hunger and their long-term effects. I have tried to correlate and integrate all these topics and have presented a macro-level perspective. In the end, I have applied structural -functionalism theory to childhood hunger.
Hunger can be described as "the compelling need or desire for food coupled with the physiological, painful sensation or state of weakness caused by the need of food" ("Hunger and Food Security in Canada"). It is a common belief that only developing nations face hunger and industrialized nations do not experience hunger as a major issue considering their wealth and prosperity. However, this is a total misinterpretation as a number of developed countries are also facing hunger as a major social issue that needs to be addressed immediately. It is important to understand that the poverty-stricken countries are not essentially affected by hunger but hunger is also affecting people who have no or low-incomes within any society, whether in a developed, developing or underdeveloped country. It is a bitter truth that hunger is same everywhere though the situations of the people are different. Hunger is caused by similar situations and has same consequences for human beings. Hunger cannot be classified according to peoples' race, rank, age, nationality, sexual characteristics etc. Thus, this issue required to be attended without delay and relentlessly so that the world can get rid away of it ("Hunger and Food Security in Canada").
When hunger is considered, food security cannot be ignored. It is, f truth be told, "the surety that individuals have the opportunity to access food, have the availability of reliable food at all times and finally have the ability to utilize safe, nutritious food to meet their daily recommended dietary intakes for a productive, healthy life" ("Hunger and Food Security in Canada"). The absence of even one of the mentioned aspect recommends that there is no food security as it is significantly important for a person to enjoy all the mentioned factors.
The question is why hunger and food insecurity are present even in today's contemporary world when resources can be exploited with innumerable measures. The answer is simple. The food is unequally distributed on a global as well as domestic level. Secondly, the society treats food as an article of trade and not as a necessity. Thirdly, no enough sustainable means are employed for producing food that results in waste of food. Fourthly, food is imported and exported as a commodity and the governments limit its distribution by imposing trade restrictions. Last but not the least, the main reason of the existence of hunger and food insecurity is poverty that makes it extremely difficult for people to acquire food and consume it ("Hunger and Food Security in Canada").
More or less 16 million children are threatened by hunger presently only in the wealthiest nation of the world i.e. United States of America. Thus, it can be easily understood that if this is the state of hunger in the wealthiest country then what worst situations are being experienced by the poorest nations of the world. Child hunger is an issue that cannot be accepted at any level. There are adequate amounts of food on our planet. It is the responsibility of the governments to make sure that every kid is provided with sufficient nutritious food through the food programs. According to the latest facts and figures, the problem of child hunger has worsened after the recession. There are a number of reasons due to which childhood hunger occurs all over the world. Firstly, there has been a continuous increase in rates of joblessness and poverty. Due to these two major issues, child hunger has increased significantly. Unemployment and scarcity of resources have raised the rates of childhood food insecurity (Berg 6).
Reasons of Childhood Hunger
The families in which there is no food security have income levels that vary. Moreover, childhood hunger persists because the job status and geographical position are also different everywhere.
As far as incomes are concerned, the variations in them are a major reason of the existence of childhood hunger. This is because a majority of children who experience this drastic menace in such a small age belong to families that are extremely poor and do not have enough resources to get food on a regular basis (Berg 7). However, it is also a fact that all poor people are not food insecure. Families who live above the federal poverty level may also experience food insecurity and consequently childhood hunger. When it comes to the status of work and the structure of family, both factors are responsible in childhood hunger. A majority of the households that are not food-secured are those where there is poverty as well as two working parents (Berg 7). Thus, the common belief that childhood hunger is due to the irresponsible behavior of parents towards the children is completely incorrect. Thus, it has been called for a number of NGOs worldwide that there should be more jobs and sound salaries for the working poor population as they face a lot of difficulties in feeding the children in the family. The diverse geographical locations are also a factor contributing in childhood hunger. Both the urban and rural areas all over the world have families where there exists childhood hunger (Berg 8).
Effects of Childhood Hunger
According to research, the major reason of childhood hunger is poverty. The children's ability to get rid of poor circumstances is impaired by hunger. Poverty turns out to be a severe trap for children making it difficult for them to escape from it. The facts and figures of various studies conducted all over the world indicate that "hunger and food insecurity directly harm children at each stage of their development while also erecting barriers to effective parenting" (Berg 9). Not only this, the physical development is also affected greatly due to hunger consequently making it impossible for children to pay attention to their studies. Thus, the sapping of energy affects the children's performance in school and performance of household chores. Such circumstances make it hard for both children and their parents to cope positively and develop anxiety and meagerness among them (Berg 9).
As already mentioned, there are a number of problems that are faced by children who live in households where there is food insecurity or food insufficiency. These problems include poor health, headaches, flu, stomachaches, frequent hospitalization, deficiency of iron, behavioral problems in children above three, less physical activity, poor mental development, depression, chronic conditions, lower grades etc. Thus, child hunger declines a child progressively more (Berg 10). Thus, the nutrient deprivation directly impacts the physical and psychological well-being of the children and they feel sadness "about the family food supply, feelings of having no choice in the foods eaten, shame/fear of being labeled as poor, and attempts to shield children" (Berg 10). In extreme cases, the adolescents deprived of food even attempt to commit suicide. Hunger also makes good parenting a difficult task and parents who are not able to provide food to their kids suffer from depression and stress (Berg 12). The cruel effects of hunger also lessen the ability of parents to earn money as it is not easy for them to find and keep a job with a stomach that is mostly empty. Such adults are too weak to work and earn a living. Thus, the physical and emotional weakness makes it difficult for parents to give their children what they deserve. The acquisition and maintenance of employment is difficult and they are not able to economically benefit their children. Factors like these make it impossible for children to get out of poverty right away (Berg 13).
When children are not provided with sufficient amount of nutritious food, they experience physical, cognitive, academic, social and emotional drawbacks. As a consequence, not only the children but the families and communities also experience the long-term effects of insufficient outcomes. Research shows that adults who suffered hunger during their childhood do not possess the required skills in education and technology. Thus, it is difficult for them to produce fruitful results in today's contemporary world as they are not competent enough to be effective and efficient.
It means that if childhood hunger is ended, it can have a remarkable contribution to provide solutions for the most alarming and long-term tribulations related to "healthcare, education, workforce competitiveness, and ultimately economic weakness" ("NAHO Roadmap to End Childhood Hunger in America by 2015" 3). The end of childhood hunger will ensure that the health of affected people is improved, healthcare costs are reduced, educational status of the people is elevated, national workforce competitiveness is regained and economy is strengthened. Thus, the end of childhood hunger will not only benefit…