Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Poverty and the Political Powerlessness of Children

Gottfried Schweiger, Mar Cabezas


Children are affected by poverty more often than adults, and growing up in poverty has severe and long-lasting negative consequences for a child’s well-being. How-ever, children are also in a very weak position, both to escape poverty on their own and to publicly and politically enforce their claims to a better life. Accordingly, children living in poverty are victims of two intersecting forms of powerlessness: they are children and they are poor. In this article, we analyze this particular type of powerlessness from a children’s rights perspective and argue that, in order to effectively restore justice to children in pov-erty, the State has to implement a comprehensive children’s rights regime. We argue that the State is obliged to consider children’s best interests in all its policies – even those that are not directly related to children – in order to compensate for the lack of political agency during childhood. This demand reflects the particular social and political status of children, namely: that they are dependent on others for their well-being, that childhood is a phase of particular vulnerability and that (young) children lack certain competencies that are needed to enforce their claims.

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