Amid Spain’s crisis, children most at Risk
Six years after the property boom that led to the economic crisis in Europe, Spain is facing a rise in child poverty as a result of parents having no jobs.
According to a study by children’s charity Educo, the number of children at risk of poverty is now at 2.5 million, a significant jump from the pre-crisis figure of 500,000 in 2007. Teachers and schools are the first in line to witness the changes among the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
Burgos city’s San Pedro and San Felices School Director Father Modesto Diez commented that more and more children come to class without having showered because of unpaid water bills at home: ‘They lack electricity and water at home, they live in deficient housing, their basic needs are not met. They come to class badly dressed and without eating properly.’
Other observations by Educo in San Pedro and San Felices School are:
- A 75% drop in the number of children who signed up for the canteen service. Out of the 25 remaining signees, 10 are covered by Educo.
- Half of the canteen tables are empty during lunchtime. Many instead opt to go home ‘and eat whatever is available.’
Diez commented that what is happening in Spain’s schools now is like the condition in the 1950s, ‘when families had to make do with the income that they had, they worked long hours for low pay.
‘We are talking about middle class people, couples where both were working because construction employed a lot of people. They had two salaries of a €1,000, €1,200 a month. That has been reduced to no salary at all in many cases.’
Children’s charity groups also believe that the crisis in households is what’s causing a rise in child abuse. ANAR Foundation reported on Tuesday that they have received a ‘worrying’ number of calls last year from children who are victims of physical and psychological abuse at home.
ANAR Programme Director Benjamin Ballesteros explained ‘one of the reasons for this increase in abuse is unemployment and the economic difficulties faced by families, which heightens tensions and increases aggression in families.’
Educo’s Director of Social Programmes Pepa Domingo commented that children and the middle class are the ‘new poor. They are people who until now did not need aid and now they do.’
Meanwhile, the Spanish government announced early this week that they are releasing a stimulus package to jumpstart employment in the country, a move which can hopefully lessen child poverty.