Researchers attach body cameras to children to study poverty in New Zealand | New Zealand

Body cameras attached to more than 150 children have captured the ‘shameful’ extent of child poverty in New Zealand through the eye of a child in a world’s first study.

The University of Otago-led study, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, involved 168 randomly selected 11- to 13-year-olds from 16 Wellington schools who wore automatic cameras for four days. Outside of school hours and on weekends, the cameras took a picture of the child every seven seconds of the day.

“[The children] they wear them all the time, so they just went on with their lives,” said Louise Signal, a senior author of the study and professor of public health. “They played ball, you could see what they eat, where they go.”

The photos also recorded the condition of the child’s housing, what was in their fridge and cupboards, how likely they were to have a private space, and whether they were exposed to hazards such as gambling, drinking or moldy rooms.

It’s the first study to use cameras to children “to really show the lived reality of poverty from a child’s perspective,” Signal said. Spin-off studies have also emerged from the camera data, including a look at children’s exposure to junk food and branding.

Researchers compared images taken by children living in the lowest to the highest levels of deprivation.

They found that children from poorer households had less healthy food available to them, fewer educational resources, no access to technology or quiet spaces to do homework, often lived in moldy and overcrowded houses, had fewer opportunities to participate in structured physical activity. and were more likely to be exposed to harmful substances such as alcohol.

“It’s heartbreaking and it’s embarrassing,” Signal said. “There is no excuse for a country of our wealth.

“We’ve always said we’re a great country to grow up in, but only for some kids.”

The study was conducted in 2014 and the results were collected and released this week.

Reducing child poverty is one of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s main themes. In her newly created role as Minister for Child Poverty Alleviation, she introduced legislation in 2018 that aimed to create political accountability for reduction targets.

According to Stats NZ, measures of child poverty are beginning to decline, but about 150,400 children are living in severe income poverty, with a further nearly 600,000 living in either post-housing or income poverty. Major differences remain between Māori and Pasifika children: one in five Māori children live in material adversity and one in four Pasifika children.

Since the data from the survey was collected, the government has made some improvements to housing, benefits and a cost of living allowance for people on low incomes, Signal said. “Yet the problem of child poverty in Aotearoa remains, which is detrimental to the health and well-being of our children.

“We hope that by sharing the children’s lives… maybe it can motivate adults to really break through and deal with it. We will not have a thriving society if we do not take care of our children.”

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