The University of Otago, New Zealand, has just published its findings from a study researching the effects of poverty on children. Over the course of four days, 168 children wore a body cam that took a photo of seven seconds. It documented things like their home environment, the food in their fridge and the access they have to educational tools.
This is the first time a body camera (opens in new tab) has ever been used to monitor the effects of child poverty and the results show that children living in more deprived households had less healthy food in their fridge, a lack of personal space, they often lived in crowded houses and were more likely to be subjected to violence and addiction.
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Although the research was initially conducted in 2014 it has taken until now to analyze and publish the results in the New Zealand Medical Journal (opens in new tab). Not only does this study give a better understanding of how poverty affects children but it's also led to researching the exposure children have to junk food and branding.
Louise Signal, director of the University of Otago's Health Promotion and Policy described the results as "shameful". She also commented on how there is no excuse for a country with the wealth of New Zealand to be letting down its children. Signal said, "we've always said we're a great country to grow up in, but only for some children."
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is dedicated to reducing child poverty and in 2017 she took on the role of mister for child poverty reduction in hopes of creating new legislations that make politicians accountable. According to Stats NZ (opens in new tab), at the end of June 2021, 13.6% (or roughly 156,700) of children lived in families that earnt 50% less than the national median income.
Child poverty is still a massive issue in New Zealand and often affects Indigenous Māori and Pasifika children the most. There have been some improvements since the study was conducted in 2014 including better housing, benefits and the introduction of a cost of living payment to low-income earners but there is still a long way to go to eradicate it.