Right now, over a quarter of Mexican children live in poverty. Many of these children lack the basic necessities for success, such as education, food and housing. As a result, the cycle of poverty continues. Mexico possesses a two-sided economy in which one side thrives with a growing GDP, while the other is overwhelmingly impoverished. This socioeconomic disparity results in devastating consequences for Mexico’s most vulnerable demographic- its children. Here are three important ways to help alleviate child poverty in Mexico.
3 Ways to Help Alleviate Child Poverty in Mexico
- Improve Education Quality: The dedication to education in Mexico is staggeringly low. As of right now, only 0.8% of Mexico’s GDP is dedicated to early childhood social investments. This percentage is lower than every other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country other than Turkey. With nearly 5,000 Mexican children dropping out of school every day, the need for education reform is growing increasingly stronger. Only 62% of Mexican children reach high school and a mere 38% of Mexican adults between 25 and 64 have completed an upper secondary education. This is a startling statistic in comparison to the OECD average of 74% of adults between 25 and 64 having completed secondary education. Education directly links to poverty reduction; organizations such as Enseña Por México recognize the serious disadvantages that children in Mexico face as a result of their lack of effective schooling. Enseña Por México, a counterpart of the U.S. organization Teach for America, aims to expand educational opportunities in Mexico. Its methodology includes one-on-one teaching from education professionals in the hopes of bolstering academic, professional and social development. While the organization has been running for the past six years, it has served over 60,000 students.
- Ensure Food Security: While rates of malnutrition in Mexico have dropped within recent years, the prime issue of food insecurity still prevails. Nationally, 13% of children under the age of 5 suffer from malnutrition. This percentage primarily comes from rural southern Mexico, where food insecurity is a prevalent issue. Food insecurity results from problems with availability, accessibility and consumption. The number of malnourished children in Mexico is not a result of the country’s lack of national food production; rather, it is a product of Mexico’s poor families lacking basic access to food. However, some are making efforts to help these underprivileged children and their families. Organizations such as the Southern Baja Food Security Alliance (SBFSA) are working to provide healthy food programs in rural areas of Mexico. The organization works in collaboration with community stakeholders to help institute education programs that teach citizens how to grow and harvest healthy foods. These programs reach into the particularly rural areas of Southern Mexico that suffer from food insecurity the most severely. These communities desperately need sustainable solutions to alleviate hunger in their communities and ensure proper nutrition for their children.
- Remove Children from Dangerous Situations: Homelessness is a frequent consequence of child poverty in Mexico. “Street children” is a term that people often use to describe this group between the ages of 6 and 18 years old. Mexico City has 1,900,000 underprivileged and street children; nearly 240,000 of these are children who have experienced abandonment. Housing instability results in a heightened number of at-risk youths. Stunted development physically, psychologically and behaviorally all inextricably link to homelessness. These inhibited developments lead to children falling victim to issues like substance abuse, depression and mental health problems. The reasons why many children are homeless in Mexico are that they have learning disabilities, come from situations of domestic violence or have familial estrangements. Tragically, it is not uncommon to see homeless children as young as 5 years old attempting to sell trinkets on the streets of larger cities such as Mexico City or Puebla. Certain organizations have been working to take these homeless children out of their dangerous living situations. Mexico Child Link Trust, for example, works toward helping abandoned children with learning disabilities in Mexico. The organization provides housing for abandoned and orphaned children with learning disabilities, many of whom are prior street children. With over 20 years of success, the Mexico Child Link Trust has helped numerous children gain sustainable housing. Meanwhile, Street Soccer Mexico A.C. uses soccer as a tool to help homeless and disadvantaged children transform their perspectives and attitudes. The organization receives aid from national and civic institutions to organize soccer training and tournaments for its members. Since its opening 6 years ago, Street Soccer Mexico A.C. has expanded its program to reach every state of Mexico.
Child poverty in Mexico is flourishing as a substantial portion of the Mexican population lives below the poverty line. A lack of education, food insecurity and homelessness plague many of their lives. While organizations work toward aiding these vulnerable individuals, an abundance of work still needs to occur to help the impoverished children of Mexico.
– Hope Shourd