Beyond the Material Wounds of Child Poverty: The Conceptualization of Child Poverty as Moral Damage

  • Mar Cabezas
  • Carlos PitillasEmail author
Part of the Philosophy and Poverty book series (PPOV, volume 1)


In this chapter, we aim to develop a set of considerations regarding the status of child poverty as moral damage. This approach may enrich the perspectives centered on material and social aspects, by enhancing our understanding of the complexities involved in the experience of child poverty. The consideration of child poverty as a form of moral damage could offer a complementary theoretical tool to analyze how the classic binomial aggressor-victim changes its shape in systemic collective problems. Hence, the aggressor could be made of multiple hands; the damage could be understood as omission or enabling of some conditions; and the victims could be both aware or to some extent unaware of their conditions. In this sense, moral damage would work as a key concept of ethical reasoning, allowing us to identify instances of damage with and without conscious victims, as well as cases without one clear direct aggressor. Emphasizing the key role of moral damage for the ethical argumentation on child poverty may be especially useful to shift the focus to children and to their development. Thus, we will explore the mechanisms by which poverty specifically promotes parental neglect, and how this phenomenon creates developmental and intergenerational impacts that objectify, in a very concrete way, the nature of child poverty as moral damage. Based upon this exploration, we will delve into the basic lines of a resilience-centered approach to policy as a measure to make justice in the long term, which intends to protect the child’s integral development, and to prevent revictimizations, in the face of adversity.


Poverty Neglect Childhood Moral damage Social justice Prevention 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Complutense University of MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.University Institute for Family Studies (Pontifical Comillas University)MadridSpain

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