Childhood Poverty and Social Exclusion, Tess
Ridge, Policy Press, £17.99 ISBN 18861343620
This volume explores how children (mainly aged 12 and above)
from low-income families regard the low standard of living they are
forced to endure.
The central chapters draw on research carried out in rural and
urban neighbourhoods in and around Bristol. The conclusions are not
altogether surprising. Two-thirds of the children receive no pocket
money; hence finding forms of paid employment is a major
There is also powerful testimony on the pressure to “fit in” with
peers, especially by wearing the right clothes, which creates
further financial difficulty.
Friends are highly valued, not only as a source of social
validation but also as protection against bullying, which is an
ever-present threat among the young people in the study. Some of
the most moving reflections are from those young people who see,
and try to minimise, the impact of poverty on their parents’
There are plenty of pointers here. The sharp observations of these
young citizens on their schooling, on problems in their
neighbourhood and on the deficiencies of their leisure
opportunities, set an agenda for any practitioner who aspires to
tackle family poverty.
John Pierson is senior lecturer, Staffordshire