The depiction of Junior’s experience in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is realistic. Junior had many social difficulties and physical issues that were the result to his poor economic situation. If he would have had more money, he could have received more medical treatment and his life could have been more enjoyable. When students are poor it makes them sad and this negatively impacts their childhood.
In 2014, 22% of all children that went to school were living in poverty, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty. Poverty means the state of being extremely poor. For a family living in poverty, their total income is only $23,550 a year. This is the poverty line for a family of four. To be able to cover basic needs and expenses, families would need an income of about twice this level or more than $47,100 to cover this. The Federal Government poverty line definition is half of what it should be for families to realistically meet their needs. This leaves about 45% of children in low-income families or in poverty. Poverty can affect kids in school’s health, nutrition, behavior problems, and poor language.
Poverty’s impact on health affects many aspects of a child’s development and life. Kids that are poor have more untreated ear infections and hearing loss issues. They also have a greater risk of asthma if and when exposed to lead. Exposure to lead causes poor working memory and a weaker ability to think. Kids with ear infections may have trouble with sound discrimination, making it hard to follow directions, do highly demanding auditory processing, and understand the teacher. This can hurt their reading ability and other skills. Poor diets also affect behavior. Students can often appear listless when they have low energy or hyperactive when they have too much sugar.
Nutrition can also cause problems during and before school. Because of being poor, they kids usually skip breakfast or eat low nutrition food, and poor nutrition at breakfast affects gray matter mass in children’s brains. When students experience poor nutrition and diminished health practices, it’s harder for them to listen, concentrate, and learn. Children that are within 130-180% of the poverty level and go to school can get free or reduced price meals.
Poverty can also impact children’s ability to learn through impoverished environment. Children in low-income families hear, on average, 13 million words by age 4. In middle-class families, children hear about 26 million words during that same period of time. In higher-income families, they hear about 46 million words by age 4, that’s three times as many words as lower-income kids. This can cause kids to fall behind on class and struggle at something else besides at home and health. This can cause students to dropout of school. The dropout rate for families in poverty in 2015 was over 1.2 million students, according to DoSomething.org. That’s a student every 26 seconds, or 7,000 a day.
Lack of access to affordable transportation further hurts low-income families makes it difficult for them to fit in. According to Harvard economist, there is a strong relationship between transportation and social mobility. Families that have access to low cost transportation have a larger range of jobs to pick from and can take their kids places more easily. Kids in the poverty level have a harder time fitting in. For example, they may have to wear the same clothes over again or dirty clothes. They may not have any electronics. Also, kids in poverty could get made fun of because of how they look.
So in the end, poverty can affect kids in school by their families not making enough money, health issues, behavior problems, nutrition, and dropping out. In the book, Junior had severe health issues which were not helped by lack of nutrition. Junior’s family was negatively impacted by their poverty. Many of them drank alcohol to try to escape their sadness. The result of this was accidental deaths that left Junior sad, depressed, and lonely.