#NWNW 2014 Essay Contest Winner, Jevon J. Joseph




TOPIC: No wedding, no womb project: “The poverty cycle increases when there’s an uneducated single mother: Discuss.”
Uneducated Single mothers have become a new epidemic which is spreading worldwide.

Mark Twain once said “A baby is an inestimable blessing and bother”. I agree with this statement fully and it all depends on the person’s status, especially the person on whom most of the responsibility lies: the mother. The recent rise in illiteracy rates, coupled with high pregnancy rates and high school drop outs, has caused a great increase in the poverty levels amongst uneducated single mothers. In today’s Caribbean society, we’ve all heard the usual stories of men leaving women stranded with babies and kids but this isn’t based on run away fathers; in my view, this is strictly about the female aspect of the issue. Both teen and adult females at times are “cursed or blessed” with a child. This happens as a result of knowledge as well as choice.
Firstly I would approach the “curse” aspect of my statement above. Imagine a Seventeen year old Form Four (Grade 10 or 11) student has already given birth. The teen is already from a broken home. Her mother has a job as a cashier in the local supermarket and is already living “hand to mouth”, just getting by. This newborn will add a strain to the already unstable family as the girl’s boy friend can’t be found. As a result of having a basic level of education, she is forced to work in the same grocery as her mother after dropping out of school.
The new born in this case becomes a curse to the family as the teenager was not mature or financially or emotionally prepared to have a child; and because of a lack in education, she was unable to get what is seen as a good job to sustain herself and a child. She also forces her mother deeper into poverty. This doesn’t mean only teenagers are falling victim to poverty because of pregnancy while being uneducated. Grown women are also stuck in the same predicament where they make kids for a man who either ends up dead or have left for good or never cared enough in the first place to establish a family with her. The mother, if she doesn’t choose her mate wisely or if she does not possess an education is left with a minimum wage job which we all know in today’s economic lifestyle can’t support a family. Some depend on government handouts to take care of them. These cases are mostly present in the government neglected areas or lower class of society as they do not have the resources and education to overcome such issues.
In addition to that there is a flip side to these situations and the child could be a blessing. Not every female that is uneducated and pregnant will fall into poverty; it all depends on the economic status of the people around the person and their willingness to help the mother through a time like this. If the family comes together and springs into action they could help their daughter, cousin, sister or niece from becoming a statistic, even if the boyfriend leaves (not that I am in anyway supporting the rise in absenteeism amongst fathers. To me, this is another problem, since paternal absenteeism and irresponsibility are direct links to childhood issues and a decline in family life). In some cases without the family’s help, the mother uses the birth of a child as a wakeup call and begins to work even harder than before and there are a lot of instances where a mother succeeds and changes the course of future generations in her family.
“The poverty cycle increases when there’s an uneducated single mother” is a true statement, but this all depends on the status of the individual as said before. I also believe the cycle can continue because the mother is so busy trying to make ends meet that there is no time for the child who follows and makes the same mistakes and continues the cycle. The lower classed uneducated mother would always have a harder time getting back on her feet as her family is busy trying to get ahead than to help her. It means to me that in order to get out the never ending cycle of poverty in this case someone in the family needs to make better decisions and turn themselves around. If this doesn’t happen it would not end as the final cause of poverty is the culture or mindset of poverty. Proverbs 10:15 says, “The ruin of the poor is their poverty.” Which in other words means Poverty breeds poverty.
The theory of poverty being a culture was explored by Sociological researcher Ruby K. Payne when she explained that poor people have their own culture with a different set of values, which can keep them trapped in the cycle of poverty. She also goes on to say that time is something treated differently by the poor; they generally do not plan ahead and simply live for the moment, which keeps them from saving and making changes related to helping their children escape poverty. This theory is truth as most single uneducated mothers end up in this case from not planning ahead, not making wise or educated choices and living in the moment.
Furthermore there is also the issue of dependency; some women become dependent on welfare and would not make an effort to change their direction for the child’s sake. Others have become dependent on child support and would not get jobs, since they would rather live on the little they have. Some women may even decide to depend on an abusive partner to help out in the household, who in turn may resent the responsibility of another child and the child may end up dead. This recently happened here in Trinidad in the case of Keyanna Cumberbatch, who was murdered and stuffed into a barrel on 27th November 2013. The stepfather was the one responsible for such a heinous act, and he was the man trusted to be in charge of her late 6 year old daughter.
Children growing up in a household with an uneducated mother and stuck in poverty could suffer from low self esteem as they may see themselves as being lower than others. Researchers in Michigan determined that “49 percent of all child abuse cases are committed by single mothers.” Some of the children turn to drugs and a means of comfort while others become deviants as a form of rebellion. “The Strain theory” by Robert Merton explains that social structures within society and pressure may result in someone turning to a life of crime. Children who are brought up in single parents homes are known to be more depressed and have a greater chance of committing suicide than other kids.
Above all there are not only negative effects related to uneducated single mother. In certain cases, families that are in poverty produce children who grow up in these situations make great citizens and hard workers. In some case, they perform better than children with both parents. They try their best to change the path of their future and in turn would not make the same mistakes as their parents. This is possible with encouragement from mentors, teachers, neighbours and peers. Also, education is needed to push someone to do better. This is what most uneducated mothers take for granted, thinking they can’t help their children because of not being educated. A perfect example of this is the famous Surgeon Ben Carson whose mother though undereducated herself, pushed her sons to read and to believe in themselves. Carson went from being a poor student to receiving honors and he eventually attended medical school. As a doctor, he became the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital at age 33, and became famous for his ground-breaking work separating conjoined twins.
To conclude, the poverty cycle cannot be broken unless a parent, specifically a mother, decides on the importance of making better choices for her family. She has to decide on a good mate for her children as well as she should make the decision to be educated, since education leads to better choices and a better foundation for the child’s life. Not all cases of poverty leads to deviance, violence and crime, but too often we happen to see that these are the direct results of what happens in our society the majority of the time.

Too many times, we have seen that juvenile delinquency being the result of poor parental presence and a lack of moral values, things which should be available in a home with both parents.

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