Many organizations spend valuable time and money addressing certain issues that affect society, including the problem of substance abuse among the underprivileged. While substance abuse can affect anyone from any demographic, people in poverty, especially those living in big cities, are often more at risk for drug abuse. Thankfully, helping low income individuals avoid drugs has become a common charitable endeavor in our country, but there are so many more people that still need this kind of help.
Drugs are a huge part of many inner city neighborhoods. In many low income, urban areas, residents spend what little money they have on drugs. Drugs are the cause of much of the crime and violence in inner cities, and drugs are responsible for keeping people from getting out of poverty.
Not only do drugs affect adults living in poverty, but they have lasting effects on children raised in that culture. Urban youth raised around drugs are more likely to witness violence and dysfunction, which causes them to have problems in school and to be at greater risk to get caught up in drugs themselves at a young age.
A study done on children from the lowest-income neighborhoods of Chicago in the 1980s and 90s shows the difference that can be made by people willing to work with at risk youth. The study tracked 1,539 children by from preschool until the age of 28, and found that those children who attended a preschool program designed specifically for them were 28% less likely to develop drug or alcohol problems in adulthood. The program helped parents and their children become more involved in their school and community. “It’s kind of like a chain reaction,” the lead researcher said. “The cognitive advantage and family support leads to a later advantage in terms of school commitment and ultimately, these kids don’t get involved in the justice system.” (1)
The long-term effects of programs that work directly with youth are almost always positive, but it is not good enough to simply bring youth into a program or facility. They need positive interaction with adults. These kids need to learn life skills and to develop social skills, in order to become responsible adults someday.
Programs work best when they target young children, such as the preschoolers in the study. But that does not mean we should give up on older students. Prevention programs and life skills building techniques can be effective in grade school and high school students; it just may take more time to reach these kids.
Programs that provide even general assistance to youth have the added benefit of helping keep them off drugs. Kids with adult support and guidance are more likely to stay off drugs and away from crime, and get a job when they are adults.
Children raised among drugs in low income, inner city areas do not have to be another statistic of drug addiction. They can break out of the cycle of poverty, drugs, and violence; they just need someone who cares about them to help give them support and encouragement.
This article was written by Bethany Winkel
Joining the TSN online family in 2008, Bethany has used her skills as a writer to reach many people through her blog. Always eager to be a help to others, she is pleased to see her writing become a source of information, encouragement, and hope for those impacted by substance abuse. Bethany is happy to be involved with an organization that is making a difference in the lives of others. Bethany has also held the position of development coordinator for a nonprofit youth center for the past 6 years. With her expertise in grant writing, Bethany has raised over $1 million for programming that benefits at-risk youth. The happy mother of 4 young children, Bethany juggles her writing from home with spending time with her family. If her hours of research for her TSN blog articles have taught her one thing, it is to be an involved parent who takes time to listen to her kids.