Roughly 21 per cent of children in Germany have lived in poverty, either recurrently or permanently, for a period of at least five years, according to a study published yesterday.
Another 10 per cent of children in Germany, one of Europe's richest countries, experience poverty intermittently throughout their upbringing, according to the study from the Bertelsmann Foundation, an independent research group linked to the Bertelsmann media empire.
"Child poverty is a permanent condition in Germany," said Bertelsmann chairman Joerg Draeger. "Anyone who is once poor remains poor for a long time." "Too few families can escape from poverty," he added.
Children who live in a household with less than 60 per cent of the average household net income or receive basic support from the state are regarded as poverty-prone.
The study found that while basic care is normally available for those affected by poverty, they are often isolated from social life, which the researchers measured using a list of 23 items that families often lack for financial reasons.
These included visits to the cinema, access to computers linked to the internet and living in small apartments.
"Children cannot free themselves from poverty; they therefore have a right to a livelihood which provides them with fair opportunities, as well as being good for personal growth," said Draeger.
He went on to say that government policy should not treat children as small adults, and called for a revamp of family policy, including a reduction of bureaucratic hurdles to social assistance.