Published in The New York Times Sunday Review, the essay written by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn claims to have the panacea that will put an end to poverty. They claim this can happen simply by utilizing public health nurses as agents that engage with single mothers over the course of two years, training them in parenting skills and ensuring that proper childcare is taking place. The authors seem enamored by this concept to the extent that they omit other reasons for the existence of poverty that nursing cannot address, such as viable economic opportunities. But they also take a rather long way in order to pitch their remedy, which actually begins by implying that people living in poverty are responsible for a host of social and health related ills including fetal alcohol syndrome, smoking while pregnant and even public masturbation. The writers’ approach to this issue, while perhaps well-meaning, is also another way in which to reinforce a population sector in this country that already lives with a great deal of stigma. Attaching a host of health-related atrocities onto their shoulders does little to help their cause.
I’m in agreement with the information presented only in as much as the health related and social issues reported by the two writers is certainly real, but it cannot be solely attributed to those living in poverty. I’m also in agreement with nursing programs that intervene in the lives of people in order to address their needs, but I do not agree that one approach to the issue of poverty makes for a potential end to an issue that is as systemic as it is generational. I also do not agree with the authors’ perspective as they do in fact attach issues to poverty that exist throughout society. What is most frustrating about this one issue is the authors do not bother to look into the demographic data concerning fetal alcohol syndrome or how many mothers either drink or smoke during pregnancy but it is clear whose doorstep they place these issues on. The information is congruent with the course text only in as much as there is an understanding that interventions are required at times and that they are a wonderful way in which to prevent future problems. But, the essay is also a wonderful example of how bias may be cultivated and reinforced. The second half of the essay holds a great deal of value because it is a great way in which to shed light on efforts that actually work and are cost-effective. But, the article does little in terms of effecting my own perspective or behaviors concerning poverty and its effects on people.
I would argue that one possible effect of this essay is that it does reinforce bias concerning those who are poor and live in impoverished circumstances. The writers also do the reading public a disservice by claiming just one nursing programs will end poverty. But, the second half of the essay could be used in an educative manner; as a way of informing the public that effective programs actually do exist and they need support. Article such as these need to be data driven, they need to be precise about what is happening and who is involved. To make the claim that poverty will end simply by instituting a public health nursing program is misleading and irresponsible, but it does continue discourse on the issue of poverty. Framing the issue of poverty in terms of public health may actually stir more interest, perhaps it could open up discussions related to poverty and the environment as well. The article was not a very meaningful read, at least not in any productive sense. If anything, it elicited some frustration because of the manner the authors chose to writer their piece. I would tend to think that such information should be imparted by individuals who actually do the work, and not by journalists who have very little invested in the issue beyond a snazzy byline.