The number of poor under the age of 18 reached a record high at the end of June, even as the total number of children and teenagers was decreasing, the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families (CCF Taiwan) said yesterday.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, the number of poor people under 18 increased by 11 percent each year from 2002 to 2004. By the end of June, 85,128 youths under 18, or 1.56 percent of the total, were mired in poverty.
The fund said that poverty would result in children who grow up in poorer health and have fewer opportunities to receive a higher education. These disadvantages carry over to adulthood, causing many poor children to remain economically disadvantaged as adults.
CCF Taiwan and the Chinatrust Foundation conducted a survey of 3,181 families that had financial difficulties and had asked the fund for help between 1996 and 2005.
CCF Taiwan emphasized that an increasing number of children are living in poverty because of the increases in Taiwan's divorce and unemployment rates.
The survey shows that over 50 percent of families receiving the fund's help are one-parent families, with the ratio of single fathers to single mothers one to three.
Fund member Chou Hui-hsiang said that many females are mired in financial difficulties after they get divorced, which has a negative impact on children.
She added that more and more single fathers also have financial difficulties because the unemployment rate has increased over the past ten years.
The survey also shows that the average age of the single fathers is between 41 and 50, making it difficult for many of them to find another job as soon as they are unemployed.
Furthermore, according to the survey of those families in need, mothers give birth to their first child at an average age of 24, compared to 28 years old for all local mothers.
The CCF Taiwan and Chinatrust Foundation urged the public to help those poor children break out the vicious circle of poverty through financial donations that will contribute to opportunities for a better education.