Childhood poverty is something teachers get confronted with. Or some teachers get confronted with. The stratified German school system has long been linked to perpetuating social stratification. The high school I used to work at was a place that rather confronted you with childhood richness, despite being in one of the most downtrodden towns in Germany: Now at my comprehensive school the matter is a different issue. Many of the kids there are poor, and poverty has many aspects and layers. And some of the layers are more obvious than others. A lot of it is hidden. Nobody notices that a child never has any fruit because you don’t check all the food they’re eating. But you learn to notice the kids who either devour the free school fruit or look sceptically at pineapples because they have no clue what those are. And you learn to notice the kids whose clothing may be impeccably clean but is always the same. A kid tripped and tore her jacket. Now she has to tape it. The kids who will cry if some utensil breaks. Or those who are mysteriously ill just when there’s a class trip that is not free.
As a teacher you either get a heart of stone or you quitly spend a lot of money out of your own pocket. With a stash of stationery. With the winter coat that you kept for kid #2. With bake sales to raise funds for class trips.
For most kids*, childhood poverty in Germany may not be as bad as childhood poverty is in the US, at least they get more or less enough food, shelter and healthcare, but it’s devastating nonetheless. So if you want to support kids and do some good for the upcoming holidays: ask your local schools if they need anything. Here many schools have a “clothes shop” where kids can get stuff, ask if they need school supplies or maybe craft supplies from a hobby you no longer enjoy.
*A big exception here are EU migrants whose parents don’t have a job. I wrote about this before
Marcus Ranum says
Those kids should be able to approriate the basics they need out of the pentagon’s contingency fund.
I don’t have kids, but I buy a few toys every year to donate to our local Christmas drive. I’ve never thought about approaching a local school to see if they have needs. Thanks, Giliell, I’m going to do that.
Our local Goodwill store gives free clothing and household items to families in need. We also have several food banks and meal programs, that are mostly run by local churches. I would be happier if the aid came without the religious overtones, but around here there aren’t many secular charities to fill in the food gaps of social services.
Marcus Ranum says
I would be happier if the aid came without the religious overtones
We can work that in lots of ways. The other day it was raining hard and an old guy was hiking along the side of the road. I gave him a lift up the hill to town and told him “hey this is what the communists talk about -- to each according to their need from each according to their ability. I have a nice warm truck and you needed a ride.” (We have fuel, you don’t…)
Its hard to complain about Marxists when you’re out of the cold rain.