Poverty and Families in the United States

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 3
Words: 941
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College


The concept of the deserving and undeserving poor has been around for centuries, and it continues to be a controversial topic in the United States today. Some believe that poverty results from personal failings and that the government should not be responsible for alleviating it. On the other hand, some believe poverty is a systemic problem that requires government intervention. Current scholarly research on the impact of poverty on children in the United States has shown that poverty can have several adverse effects on children. Poverty can lead to poor health, educational outcomes, and stress levels. Moreover, children who grow up in poverty are more likely to experience poverty as adults. The role of government in preventing or alleviating poverty in the United States is a complex and controversial issue. Several government programs are designed to address poverty, but there is debate about whether or not these programs are effective. This essay will use the American Winter video to explore poverty in the United States.

Consideration of the Poorest People as “Undeserving” in the Society

After watching the video, there was a sad feeling, and I could not believe how many people in our country are living in poverty and how our government is not doing anything to help them. Seeing how many children live in poverty was heartbreaking (Gantz Brothers, 2013). One could have no idea that it was this bad and that our country’s cultural norms of individualism and considering most poor people “undeserving” is very unfair. One could think that everyone deserves a chance to succeed and no one deserves to live in poverty, and our government should be doing more to help the poor and ensure everyone has an opportunity to grow. This could make one think about the cultural norms of individualism and how they contribute to the idea that the poorest people are undeserving.

Individualism is a core American value and is the idea that each person is responsible for their success or failure. This value is often used to justify that poor people are undeserving because they have not worked hard enough (Fenton, 2021). However, the video showed that many poor people are working hard but are still struggling to make ends meet. They are not lazy or unmotivated. They cannot make enough money to support themselves and their families. The video also showed that the poorest people are not on welfare (Gantz Brothers, 2013). Most are working full-time jobs. They are not living off of government assistance. The cultural norm of individualism contributes to the idea that the poorest people are undeserving because it implies that they are responsible for their poverty.

The Short-Term and Long-Term Effects Experienced by children from the Poor Families

In the film “American Winter,” we are introduced to several families struggling with poverty in the United States. While each family’s story is unique, we see common themes of financial insecurity, food insecurity, and lack of access to resources and support systems. For the children in these families, the impact of poverty is both immediate and long-lasting (Curtis, 2019). In the short term, they may experience hunger and poor nutrition, as well as increased stress and anxiety due to the financial insecurity of their families. In the long term, they are at greater risk for chronic health problems, developmental delays, and academic difficulties. The children are likely to experience increased levels of poverty and inequality. Poverty can also have a profound impact on the parent-child relationship. Parents struggling to make ends meet may have less time and energy to spend with their children.

The Role Government Should Play to Prevent, Reduce and Alleviate Poverty

The role of government in poverty alleviation is two-fold: first, to provide direct assistance to those in need, and second, to enact policies that will create more opportunities and reduce inequality. Immediate assistance can take many forms, from cash transfers to in-kind benefits like food or housing assistance. There is a long history of government assistance to the poor in the United States, dating back to the New Deal era. The War on Poverty began in the 1960s and significantly expanded government assistance programs. Despite these efforts, poverty remains a persistent problem in the United States.

Government assistance programs are an essential part of the safety net that helps reduce poverty and improve the lives of those in need, but they are not a panacea. These programs can be targeted at specific groups, like low-income families or individuals, or they can be universal, like Social Security (Ziyaviddinovna, 2022). Regardless of the approach, direct assistance is an important safety net that helps to ensure that no one falls into extreme poverty. Policies and regulations encouraging economic opportunity and mobility are also critical to reducing poverty. These include investments in infrastructure and education, as well as measures to make it easier for people to start their businesses. Policies that create opportunities and reduce inequality are just as important as direct assistance in alleviating poverty.


The issue of poverty is a complex and controversial one. There is no easy solution to the problem, and it will require a multi-faceted approach. In the short term, the children in these families are likely to be impacted by the stress and anxiety that their parents are experiencing. This can manifest in several ways, including behavioral problems, trouble sleeping, and difficulty concentrating at school. In the long term, these children are at risk for developing chronic health problems, such as obesity and heart disease, as well as mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. They are also more likely to drop out of school and become involved in crime.


Curtis, A. (2019). Book Review: Rural Poverty in the United States.

Fenton, J. (2021). The “Undeserving” Narrative in Child and Family Social Work and How It Is Perpetuated by “Progressive Neoliberalism”: Ideas for Social Work Education. Societies, 11(4), 123.

Gantz Brothers. (2013). AMERICAN WINTER, HBO Documentary Filmmakers Joe and Harry Gantz. Web.

Otjes, S. (2019). What is left of the radical right. Politics Low Countries, 1, 81.

Ziyaviddinovna, M. M. (2022). Social Security way to poverty reduction. Academic Journal of Digital Economics and Stability, 18, 33-46.