Social Class Issues in Child Health

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Introduction

Lynch & Kaplan (1997) defined children health as the extent to which children are enabled or are able to undergo development and realization of their potential, satisfy their needs, and capacity build themselves for them to successfully interact with the social, physical and biological environments. Furthermore, the health of children encompasses social, emotional, mental and physical wellbeing of children. The health disparities between populations or groups are called health inequalities (Argyle 1994). By getting to understand how economic, social and environmental conditions affect our behavior and our lifestyles, and in turn understanding how they affect our health, we can try to find out means of reducing the inequalities in health, as well as improving the well being and health of the overall population. Inequality in health care provision is a major influence on the children’s health. The paper will give a discussion on psychiatric disorders as a health issue, and further discuss on how inequality in provision may affect on the child and family wellbeing.

Health inequalities

According to Freeman & Stansfeld (2008), economic distress has large effects on indicators of health. Various explanations have been proposed to explain the health inequalities. The explanations can be classified into four categories; theory of social or natural selection, artifacts explanations, behavioral and cultural explanations and structuralism or materialist explanations.

Great Britain (2003) pointed out that the artifacts theory gives a suggestion that both health and class are artificial variable, and the existing relationship between them itself may be an artifact. The belief is that failure to reduce the difference between them, has been due to counterbalancing by the reduction in the size of the socio-economic groups themselves.

On the other hand Duncan & Brooks-Gunn (1997) suggested that the theory of social or natural selection gives a relegation to the occupational class to the dependent variable status, and health gets the greater causal significance degree. This explanation according to Duncan & Brooks-Gunn (1997) suggested that the social class one has the lowest premature mortality rate, because it consists of most robust and strongest women and men in the society, and social class five contains the weakest people. The explanation portrays the idea that poor health is associated with low economic reward of low social worth. However, all these factors do not result in high mortality.

The structuralists and the materialist explanations put more emphasis on economic role and the socio-structural associated factors in the health distribution. Meltzer (2000) observed that it is difficult to explain the premature mortality prevalent in lower socio- economic groups to subsistence poverty. Social class and the associated characteristics that belong to that class have implications of health. Because poverty is a concept that is relative, people categorized under low economic class may be disadvantage relatively in relation to the accident or illness risk, or to the factors that does promotion of healthy lifestyle.

The behavioral or cultural explanations of the health distribution as elaborated by Gunnell et al (2013), suggested that the result of lifestyles that are in cautious is due to unequal distribution of health in modern industrial society, where in people harm their children or themselves by their consumption of refined food and harmful commodities in excess. Furthermore, they under utilize the contraception and the preventive health care.

Hollingshead & Redlich (1998) implied that there exist sub cultural lifestyles that are rooted in level of education and personal characteristics that govern behavior. The culture of poverty as viewed by Holman (1978), states that the existence of any human in any environment involves social and biological adaptation process which gives rise to structure of behavior, ideas and norms elaboration. This poverty culture with time seems to assist individuals in coping with their environments. This view as observed by Holman (1978), firmly explains poor health to the people’s behavior, and by implication makes them responsible fully for the outcomes that are outward

Inequalities in child health

According to Brown & Harris (1978), the gap between the rich and the poor continue to widen globally. Within UK, Bruce & Hoff (1994) observed that the financial gap existing between the poor and the wealth continues to widen and the health difference between the social classes are also becoming greater. Social inequality and poverty have indirect and direct effect on the physical, mental and social wellbeing of children. It is of great importance to note that inequality and poverty are linked closely. Usser et al (2000) believed that inequality in income results to psychosocial stress that leads to health deterioration and even high rate of mortality with time.

However, the relation between life expectance and income inequality diminishing is no longer accepted universally. The children in communities that are deprived, where there exist under investment in physical and social infrastructure, have poor health and leads to high mortality to the lower socio- economic class population. Crawford & Prince (1999) found out that income inequality effects also spills over into the society, thus causing frustration, stress and disruptions of the family, which leads to crime rate increase, violence and homicide.

There are several threats, deficits and obstacles to health due to poverty. It is the poor populations who  often have stress when employed, are exposed to harmful and dangerous environments, depersonalizing and unrewarding work, who lack the amenities and necessities of life, and who are isolated from support and information because they do not form  part of the mainstream society. According to Great Britain (1999), one of the enduring and pervasive observations in public health is the inverse relation between risk of disease and socio economic level. It is known that the group that earns the lowest income has a higher likelihood of suffering risky health behaviors negative effects compared to the less poor people. These behaviors are not taken with intentions that are harmful, but may be termed as coping behaviors that provide relief and comfort from the stressful lives. Furthermore, lower socio- economic class p.............


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