A report published yesterday found that, while some children’s needs are being met as a result of their parents going without, others are suffering more deprivation than their parents.
Barnardos and the Society of St Vincent de Paul, which commissioned the report, said current measures of poverty and deprivation were based on adults’ lifestyles and experiences.
“These measures fail to capture the child’s experience of having to go without due to a lack of money,” they said.
The research was done by the Children’s Research Centre at Trinity College Dublin and involved presenting 262 children aged nine to 11 with a list of 12 socially perceived necessities. The report said children knew what was meant by necessities, as there was a strong consensus between children and parents about which items were essential for children.
As well as adequate food and clothing, participation in social activities such as holidays, days out and going for a meal were deemed essential for an acceptable standard of living during childhood.
While one in three children surveyed went without at least one of the 12 basic items, 28% of those in better-off homes were similarly deprived.
Almost 60% in deprived homes said they did not have to go without any item, suggesting their parents were going without for their sake.
The report also said it was evident that the childhood of many children was being compromised now and any further cuts to household income or public services would continue to have an adverse effect on them.
Barnardos’ chief executive Fergus Finlay said it was crucial children were listened to.
“If we don’t hear what they say about their experiences of poverty, then we can’t find ways to limit the impact of poverty on young lives.”
Mr Finlay said Barnardos and SVP saw how poverty eroded childhoods and placed big burdens on small shoulders every day.
“We must learn from this research and review how we measure and think about child poverty in Ireland.”
SVP head of social justice and policy John-Mark McCafferty insisted Ireland was still a first-world country despite the recession.
“There is no excuse for leaving thousands of children and families on the knife edge of existence, struggling to pay for basics such as food, heating and education costs,” he said.