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W.Va. Senate panel studies roots of child poverty

Feb. 20, 2013 @ 01:29 PM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Both speakers at the first meeting of the West Virginia Senate's select committee on child poverty said that the state's high teen pregnancy rate is a leading cause of childhood poverty.

The statistics presented Wednesday show a vicious circle: children who grow up in poverty are more likely to become teen parents and then drop out of high school, meaning their children are more likely to grow up in poverty and become teen parents themselves.

West Virginia ranks 40th nationally in teen pregnancy rates.

Edcuation Alliance president Patricia S. Kusimo said that it is crucial to focus on early childhood in order to break the cycle.

Kusimo said that poverty and poor living conditions create toxic stress in very young children that adversely affects brain development.