Entries in Economy (4)


1.6 Million Kids Homeless -- 40 Percent of Them LGBT

George Doyle/Stockbyte(WASHINGTON) -- A report released by the National Center on Family Homelessness, "America's Youngest Outcasts," finds one in 45 American children 18 and under -- 1.6 million -- live on the street, in homeless shelters, motels or with other families last year.

That number is up 33 percent from 2007.

Of those children, about 20 to 40 percent identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), according to National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

In one study, 26 percent of teens who came out to their parents were told they must leave home. Others said they were physically, sexually or emotionally abused. The task force added that LGBT youth also reported that they are threatened, belittled and abused at shelters, not only by other residents, but by staff, as well.

Resources for homeless LGBT youth are scarce and shelters are at capacity, especially in New York City where the Ali Forney Center (AFC), estimates 3,800 youth are homeless, about 1,600 of them LGBT.

The most common cause of homelessness is family rejection.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Greek Debt Crisis Spurring Serious Health Consequences

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CAMBRIDGE, England) -- Greece’s debt crisis is bringing on dire health consequences that, researchers say, might soon turn into a modern-day Greek tragedy, according to a new study.

The study, published in The Lancet, found that rising unemployment and staggering debt in the past four years have led to serious health issues among the most vulnerable Greeks.

Many Greeks have been unable to get medical care because of hospital budget cuts and staffing problems and, in general, health has worsened since the financial crisis began.

“We noted a significant rise in the prevalence of people reporting that their health was ‘bad” or ‘very bad,’” the authors wrote, led by Cambridge University’s Alexander Kentikelenis.

The number of suicides increased by 17 percent between 2007 and 2009, and the Greek Parliament reported a 25 percent increase between 2009 and 2010.  That number is still rising: the number of suicides was 40 percent higher in the first half of 2011 than during the same period in 2010.

The researchers also expect the number of new HIV infections to increase by 52 percent this year, about half of them among intravenous drug users.  Heroin use, prostitution and unsafe sex practices also increased, but budget cuts have made it difficult for many people to get help from governmental programs.

“Overall, the picture of health in Greece is concerning. It reminds us that, in an effort to finance debts, ordinary people are paying the ultimate price: losing access to care and preventive services, facing higher risks of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, and in the worst cases losing their lives,” the authors wrote.

In the United States, the economic downturn is also taking a toll on the mental health of many Americans.  One recent study found that suicide rates generally rise and fall depending on the economy.

Depression and anxiety have also increased dramatically, according to experts.

“When people began to get anxious or were worried about losing their jobs, it was clear there was an increased number of individuals that presented with anxiety and depression,” said Dr. Mark Rapaport, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University in Atlanta.

Rapaport also said that difficult economic circumstances have made it tough for people to get the care they need.

“One reason is that individuals are losing their health insurance and another one is the cost of health insurance is increasing radically, so a lot of people are electing to have care with very high deductibles, so they are unable or unwilling to seek care,” he said.

Budget cuts, he said, have also decreased access to public programs.

While there are no data yet to suggest that drug use is on the rise, Rapaport said that trend wouldn’t surprise him. “In times of stress, there are many problems,” he said, “so people tend to use coping strategies like using alcohol and drugs.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Research Links Recession to Cases of Child Abuse

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) -- Children, and particularly infants, are the most vulnerable and often end up at the receiving end of adult frustration and impatience. And when the environment in which they live is pushed to the limit, incidences of child abuse often rise. Now, a new study is linking years of recession to child abuse.
New research, conducted between 2007 through 2009, the years in which America saw its economy critically worsen, shows an increase in abusive head trauma -- more commonly called shaken baby syndrome. Researchers decided to study brain-injuring abuse after pediatricians anecdotally noticed the uptick.
The children, mostly from lower-income families and chosen because they face greater risks of abuse, involved 74 counties spanning four states. Though this particular form of abuse is uncommon, the number of cases in the areas studied increased sharply -- rising from about nine cases per 100,000 children in pre-recession years to almost 15 per 100,000 during the recession, up 65 percent.
This research doesn't prove that the recession caused the abuse -- many of the families studied were already financially stressed. But with census data showing a record 46.2 million Americans now classified as "poor," further study is clearly warranted.

This study's findings are published in the journal Pediatrics.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hunger at Home: Local Heroes Come to the Rescue

ABC News(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) -- Magazine Mountain is Arkansas' highest point. But it's also one of its lowest, with most families barely getting by. On a hot Saturday morning before dawn, families are lined up outside their church because Pastor Bob Caldwell is feeding the town.

"If people don't believe in miracles, all they had to do was show up today," Caldwell told ABC News.

Caldwell is a son of poverty himself. His father was out of work for years, and now he spends every day traveling the state asking factories and businesses for free food to feed those who need it the most. He receives frozen chicken from Tyson Foods, and bread and soup from local grocery stores.

Caldwell and his church spend just $700 a month and are able to feed more than 700 people.

"All you have here is people who knock on the door and say, 'Preacher, if I don't -- if you don't help me, I don't eat tonight,'" Caldwell said. "That may not bother a lot of people, but it bothers me."

The families who line up call it Miracle Saturdays. The food giveaway takes place the third Saturday of every month, and each family is given enough food for a month.

"It would just tear us apart, if Pastor Bob wasn't doing this," said Johnathan Essman, who was standing in line.

Gene Damron receives $50 every month for food and gas from the church.

"It makes a lot of difference whether you're going to eat all month or not," Damron said, holding back tears. "Makes a lot of difference."

Damron drove his neighbor Betty Hicks to the church. She told ABC News her food stamps only go so far.

"We ate dog food," she said. "We ate it because we had to and we ate out of our dusty dumpster... We'd check the rot, and we'd cut it off the food, and what was left we'd eat."

This isn't just one small community. There are 4,700 people across three counties in the mountainous region who have trouble putting food on the table. Although there is a lot of hardship, there is very little sadness. These families have accepted this condition as a way of life.

A way of life that everyday people across the country are trying to make nonexistent.

In Phoenix and San Antonio, Liz Scarpinato started the organization Kitchen on the Street. She distributes "bags of hope" to 16,000 school children each month. The bags are filled with food for the children to take home to make sure they are able to eat on weekends during the school year.

In Atlanta, Aubrey Daniels and hundreds of volunteers climb fruit trees located on public lands. Last year they gave nearly a ton of fresh fruit to food pantries.

And in Wisconsin, 13-year-old Peyton Medick and her volunteers have collected 60 tons of food, one can at a time over the last five years.

"There's so many people that have helped me do this...I just need to keep going," said Medick. "The problem of hunger is never going to go away."

Scarpinato, Daniels and Medick, along with many others throughout the country, are determined to help families move past these desperate times.

"You can sit around and you can watch people and see hunger and say, 'Well, that's sad.' But until you do something about it, you won't make a difference," said Caldwell. "Anybody can make a difference."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio