Childhood Poverty and Social Exclusion: From a Child's Perspective

Childhood Poverty and Social Exclusion: From a Child's Perspective

Childhood Poverty and Social Exclusion: From a Child's Perspective

Childhood Poverty and Social Exclusion: From a Child's Perspective


Childhood poverty has moved from the periphery to the centre of the policy agenda following New Labour's pledge to end it within twenty years. However, whether the needs and concerns of poor children themselves are being addressed is open to question. The findings raise critical issues for both policy and practice - in particular the finding that children are at great risk of experiencing exclusion within school. School has been a major target in the drive towards reducing child poverty. However, the policy focus has been mainly about literacy standards and exclusion from school. This book shows that poor children are suffering from insufficient access to the economic and material resources necessary for adequate social participation and academic parity.Childhood poverty and social exclusion will be an invaluable teaching aid across a range of academic courses, including social policy, sociology, social work and childhood studies. All those who are interested in developing a more inclusive social and policy framework for understanding childhood issues from a child-centred perspective, including child welfare practitioners and policy makers, will want to read this book.Studies in poverty, inequality and social exclusion series Series Editor: David Gordon, Director, Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research.Poverty, inequality and social exclusion remain the most fundamental problems that humanity faces in the 21st century. This exciting series, published in association with the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research at the University of Bristol, aims to make cutting-edge poverty related research more widely available. For other titles in this series, please follow the series link from the main catalogue page.


This book is about the lives and experiences of children in poverty; it provides an opportunity to understand some of the issues and realities of child poverty from a child-centred perspective. With 3.9 million children (nearly a third of all children in Britain) living in poverty in 2000/01 (DWP, 2002a), the likelihood of spending part of their childhood in poverty has become a disturbing reality for many of Britain’s children. It is therefore imperative that we have an informed understanding of how the experience of poverty and social exclusion affects children in their social and familial lives. We know from previous studies (Bradshaw, 1990; Kumar, 1993; Gregg et al, 1999; Bradshaw, 2001a) that growing up in poverty has severely adverse outcomes for many children. What we know far less about is how the experience of poverty and social exclusion impacts on children’s own perceptions of their lives. We also have little understanding of how children interpret their experiences of poverty and how those experiences may be mediated through their differences and embedded in a diversity of social and structural environments. This book attempts to answer some of these questions by placing children at the centre of the inquiry and exploring the economic and social pressures that poverty brings to their everyday lives. This ‘child-centred’ approach underpins the process of research and analysis used throughout. At the heart of the book lie findings from a new empirical study of children and young people who are living in poverty (Ridge, 2000), which explores through their own accounts the economic, social and relational impact of childhood poverty and social exclusion. The book comes at a particularly opportune moment as policy makers and practitioners seek to address the economic and social disadvantages of childhood poverty and social exclusion, while endeavouring to move towards a more inclusive and cohesive society (DSS, 1999a).

The challenge of childhood poverty

I will set out our historic aim, that ours is the first generation to end child
poverty forever, and it will take a generation. It is a 20-year mission but I
believe it can be done. (Blair, 1999, p 7)

Blair’s historic pledge in 1999 to end child poverty within 20 years meant that the issue of childhood poverty moved, at last, from the periphery to the centre of the policy agenda. This is a welcome development and in stark contrast to . . .

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