It’s Diana’s turn at the tiny glass window. Her face burns red with shame as she is handed her monthly check. Two small children tug at her dress, their stomachs growling from a day without food. She looks down at her two children, her face filled with pain and guilt. What had happened to their happy life? With just the stroke of the pen across a divorce decree, Diana and her children were thrust into the humiliation of the welfare line.
For two years now, Diana has tried to get back on her feet, but with only a high school diploma, she can’t find a job to support her family. Getting a college degree is her only way out, but her check isn’t enough to afford daycare, so she’s stuck accepting welfare.
This is not an uncommon scenario. Most people on welfare are looking for a way to rejoin the American work force; yet, society’s stereotype of a welfare recipient is consistently that of a lazy, immoral woman who continues to have children out of wedlock just to increase her welfare benefits. This image could not be further from the truth; most single mothers who turn to welfare do so for the purpose it was originally created for: to be a temporary safety net for those trying to get back on their feet after a job loss or tragedy. Though welfare is supposed to be a temporary source of help, once the woman begins to receive her benefits, she has actually trapped herself in a vicious cycle of poverty, and while the U.
S. government takes credit for providing budget money to help thousands of people regain their positions in American society through welfare programs, it actually robs them of their dignity and self-determination. Not only that, but this system, ostensibly devised to uplift women and chil. .rs in the system, there will never be any hope for those on welfare to get off. The welfare program has turned into a vicious circle that traps the recipient, namely single mothers, into a cycle of poverty.
But before we can change anything politically or economically about the welfare system, we must first re-evaluate our beliefs and prejudices against those who did not ask to be put in this situation is the first place.
Abramovitz, Mimi, and Frances Piven. “What’s Wrong With Welfare Reform?” The New York Times 2 Sept. 2001: A23.
Buchsbaum, Gerbert. “The Welfare Debate.
” Scholastic Update 11 Mar. 1999: 6-8.
DeParle, Jason. “The Entitlement Trap.” The New York Times 27 Jan. 1994: A12
“Welfare: Means to an End?” Essence Apr. 1998: 124
Peart, Karen. “Life On Welfare.” Scholastic Update 11 Mar. 1994: 9-10.