BYU Conference Examines ‘Families and Poverty’

“BYU Conference Examines ‘Families and Poverty’” Ensign, Oct. 2004, 77

BYU Conference Examines “Families and Poverty”

The Family Studies Center at Brigham Young University recently sponsored a research conference entitled “Families and Poverty,” addressing the negative implications of poverty on the family. The conference featured presentations from both national and international researchers and scholars. Presenters shared their research on topics such as health care for poor families, consequences of welfare reform in the United States, efforts to reduce poverty by strengthening and promoting marriage, evaluating state efforts to encourage work among low-income families, and how microentrepreneurship strengthens families in developing countries. This year, the presenters came from Australia, Great Britain, India, Malta, and throughout the United States.

On the second day, conference attendees participated in a lunch designed to teach more than to feed. Sixty percent of participants ate rice and beans, a typical meal in third-world countries, 30 percent ate a slice of pizza, representing second-world conditions, and 10 percent were served a full meal with a salad and dessert, typical of first-world standards of living. The percentages corresponded with the actual breakdown of the world population into first-, second-, and third-world demographics.

On the final day of the conference, participants joined together in a hands-on humanitarian effort, packaging pencils, pencil sharpeners, scissors, and notebooks into 1,000 book bags for needy schoolchildren. BYU sociology professor Tim Heaton and several students will take 300 bags to children in Mexico as part of the Mexico sociology program. The remaining bags were given directly to Church Humanitarian Services for distribution.

“Combating poverty takes work,” said D. Russell Crane, professor of marriage and family therapy and director of the Family Studies Center. “We can’t just sit back and talk about the problem; even though our efforts were small in comparison to the magnitude of the issue, we had to do something.”

The “Families and Poverty” conference, held 10–12 March 2004, was part of a series of biennial conferences on the family organized and hosted by the Family Studies Center. In 2000, the conference topic focused on revitalizing marriage. The 2002 conference dealt with family health issues. The conference scheduled for 2006 will concentrate on the family and work.

Those attending the BYU conference learned that combating poverty requires effort, like that of members shown here at Welfare Square.