<< What does it mean to be poor?

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In October L.A. Youth asked readers about what they think about poverty and more than 1,400 teens responded. Here are the answers from the teens who responded to our survey. We randomly chose three people to win $100 for participating. They are Debora F. from Berendo MS, Alexis Z. from Monroe HS and Maci G. from Burroughs HS.

*Note: Some percentages do not add up to 100 because respondents checked all the answers that applied.

To see the results in graph form, click here

Respondents were:  Female 59%  Male 41%

Ethnicity:  Latino 72%  Asian 11%  Black 11%  White 10%

Who works in your household?
One parent 51%
Both parents 43%
Neither parent 6%

Does anyone in your household work more than one job?
No 80%
Yes 20%

Do you or your siblings work to help support the family?
No 69%
Yes 31%

Who do you live with?
Parent(s) and siblings 95%
Grandparents 8%
Relatives 7%
Not with family 1%

How many cars does your family have?
Two 39%
One 28%
More than two 25%
None 7%

How do you get around?
Parents drive me 72%
Walk/skateboard 42%
Bus/Metro train system 35%
Bike 13%
I drive my own car 4%

Do you receive free or reduced price lunch at school?
Yes 79%
No 21%

How does your family pay for health care?
I’m not sure 40%
We have government assistance, like Medi-Cal 30%
We have insurance through a parent’s job 25%
We don’t have health insurance 5%

Has your family had trouble paying for or been unable to pay for any of the following within the past year?
Utility bills 58%
Rent or house payment 52%
Transportation 36%
Clothes 23%
Food 22%
Medical bills 14%
Child Care 6% 

Have you had to cut back on any of the following in the last year because your family didn’t have enough money to give you?
Shopping for clothes 59%
Going to movies 53%
Buying video games/music 48%
Eating out with friends 45%
After-school activities 18%

Is your family saving money so that you can go to college?
I don’t know 43%
Yes 36%
No 21%

Your attitudes

We asked respondents to check all of the statements that they agreed with.
People are poor because of circumstances beyond their control, like the loss of a job, medical problems or they don’t get paid enough money 84%
People are poor because of bad choices they’ve made like being lazy or abusing drugs or dropping out of school 61%
A person’s success depends on the quality of their school 26%
People born into rich families are more likely to be rich in the future 25%
Children in poor families are more likely to be poor in the future 10%
A person’s success is based on luck 5%

How would you rate your family’s financial situation today?
We’re not rich, but we’re comfortable 54%
It’s tough to pay bills, but we manage 41%
We’re poor 3%
We’re rich 2%

Here is a list of things the government could do to directly help the poor in America.

We asked respondents to check the statements that they would support.
Provide money to help families pay for medical expenses or health insurance 68%
Increase minimum wage 61%
Provide more job training 51%
Provide more money to buy food (food stamps) 50%
Provide free or discounted transit passes 37%
Provide money to help families pay for daycare 28%

Whose responsibility is it to help the poor?
The government should help 83%
People should help themselves 43%
Churches and community organizations 35%