The Impact of Poverty on Children's Well-Being and Health Behavior Based on the Results of Research Conducted in One of Hungary's Most Disadvantaged Micro-Regions

Children (Basel). 2024 May 23;11(6):624. doi: 10.3390/children11060624.

Abstract

This empirical research on children's poverty and the accompanying risk behavior was conducted in the Baktalórántháza micro-region, in one of the most disadvantaged micro-regions of Hungary. The study, completed in 2023, was conducted utilizing three methods, a questionnaire for families, interviews, and focus group interviews with social professionals working in the settlements. The region is one of the ten micro-regions with the highest poverty rate in the country. The majority of the population only has an elementary education, and the proportion of graduates is much lower than the national average. The proportion of households with three or more children is higher than the national average and the proportion of unemployed people in households with children is twice as high as the national average. Based on the experience of social workers working in the area, in addition to smoking and drinking alcohol, the consumption of psychoactive and psychotropic substances has increased among adolescents and young adults. Based on various indicators, children regularly consume illegal drugs. The origin and composition of these drugs are typically unknown. According to the reports by drug users, everyday life is easier, and they can escape from problems when under the influence of drugs. Based on the observations of experts, the consumption of various psychoactive substances has harmful effects on behavior, health, learning, and family life. School performance and the ability to think and learn decrease. Drug users are dissatisfied with their lives, have problems with social relationships, engage in partner violence, and may develop antisocial behavior in their lives.

Keywords: addictions; child poverty; risk behavior.

Grants and funding

The first study on child poverty in the Baktalórántházai region was financed by the Hungarian Máltai Charity in 2023. The project name is “Follow-up questionnaire survey among families with children research camp service—Baktalórántházai research camp”. This project is linked to EFOP-1.4.1-15-2016-00001 “Support for integrated children’s programs” which was financed by the European Union. The second study is “Exploring the drug use habits of children and young people living on the social margins”. The research identifier is KAB-KT-16-25568 and was financed by the Hungarian Government.