How the Other Half Lives

by Jacob Riis
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How would you describe the effect of poverty on children?

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While my description and yours may differ, it is hard to deny that Jacob Riis's How the Other Half Lives was one of the more influential books in late nineteenth-century America.  Riis, an immigrant himself, took a detective camera and went to various tenement houses in order to...

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While my description and yours may differ, it is hard to deny that Jacob Riis's How the Other Half Lives was one of the more influential books in late nineteenth-century America.  Riis, an immigrant himself, took a detective camera and went to various tenement houses in order to show the squalor in which the immigrants lived.  While conditions were bad for the people who lived in these unregulated deathtraps, they were especially bad for children.  The children who lived in these situations faced extreme poverty.  Their diets lacked some vitamins due to an inability to afford food, and this led to more children getting sick.  Childhood mortality was quite high in the tenements.  The children often did not have access to school because they had to work in the factories.  This meant that they would likely be poor their entire lives.  Children were also vulnerable to criminals who sought to exploit them.  Riis pointed out all of this in a series of lectures with his books over a hundred years ago.  While the tenement is considered a thing of the past, childhood poverty is still relevant today, and it often breeds generational poverty and other social problems.  

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