Taking of how each variable of the political,

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Last updated: September 11, 2019

Taking place in Baltimore, Maryland, the hit HBO crime drama series, The Wire, is one that reveals corruption between law enforcement, drugs and the people of the poverty-stricken city. This thrilling series depicts an accurate portrayal of how each variable of the political, societal and economic branches intertwine within this community.

One notion that is clearly visible of this drama series is that the ghetto-living African-American population is struggling to prosper without adequate sources of income, poorly established education systems, encouraging family situations, non-violent activities for individuals and overall well-rounded neighborhood where crime is not an option. The socioecological model is an excellent resource that can be incorporated into The Wire’s setting as well as overall message as to the issues within the inner city of Baltimore. The life of one particular character, Michael Lee, a fourteen year old adolescent who experiences a series of traumatic events in his life, strongly displays the similar obstacles that many individuals encounter in poorer areas of the country. Over the course of this paper, the living conditions of impoverished areas in the United States, such as the region that is presented in The Wire, and just how exactly all factors of health are severely affected will be discussed.

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The subjects of health disparities and the social determinants of health will be correlated to the evident dilemmas of corruption, crime, law enforcers and citizens of the community throughout the drama series as well as Michael Lee’s life.”Our children are our future,” is a renowned quotation that is short yet empowering. Despite the opportunities that most members of today’s youth hold, the youth of African-Americans living in urban impoverished areas suffer from lack of the equal opportunities that members of other, more privileged groups do. The are numerous public health concerns for the African-American youth that are presented throughout the series of The Wire. The storyline of this series is locates back to Baltimore, Maryland, a city that has a predominantly high population of African-American individuals who suffer from severe societal, political and economic struggles.

During the 1960s, the population of Baltimore transformed from a majority of white citizens to black citizens and shortly after noticed as a location of poverty, scarce amounts of opportunity as well as brutal crime (Cobbs, J. 2017).  With such an extensive history of racism, poverty, violence, drug crime, poor education systems and homes, Baltimore’s roots of lack of equal opportunities runs deep. West Baltimore suffers from extreme poverty which is the origin of the larger portion of the conflicts throughout the city. John Hopkins University conducted a study in 2014 where students compared living conditions amongst teenagers living in New Delhi, Johannesburg, Shanghai, Ibadan, Nigeria and Baltimore. The study resulted in the fact that teenagers living in Baltimore felt at a greater loss of prosperous life than teenagers living in New Delhi and Ibadan, Nigeria (Gray, S.


As of the year 2013, nearly one fourth of inner city Baltimore residents lived below the poverty line (Gray, S. (n.d.).

As per the United State Census Bureau, twenty three point one percent is the rate of individuals that are living in poverty (QuickFacts- SAIPE. (2017). In the year 2014, the city’s unemployment rate was at eighteen point five percent for African-Americans (Area Explorer – Baltimore City Workforce Region – Workforce Information & Performance (n.d.

).  The CNN news channel conducted a news special regarding the disparities in Baltimore, Maryland about poverty rates, disease, employment and unemployment, housing and prison rates. As of 2013, sixty one percent of children lived beneath the low-income households and thirty-five percent of other children lived beneath the federal poverty line (Income, W. C. (n.

d.). According to research found by the Baltimore Sun, over the past three years, Baltimore’s economy is rising with the property wealth at five point two increase, overall incomes of the city at a four point three income (adding twelve thousand jobs) which is three point one percent higher than the state rate of growth and the total unemployment rate has decreased from eight percent to six percent (Broadwater, L.

(2017). Despite the overall prosperity of the city, there is a still a neglected area of the urban Baltimore that still suffers extreme poverty and a massive wealth gap between white and black residents of the city. Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, who is director of the corporation’s Racial Wealth Divide Project, describes the inequality of opportunity between civilians of the thriving class and the poorer classes. One out of three families in Baltimore are living in poverty; the economic growth has not yet reached those who suffer from lack of resources as a result, city officials and employers should provide job opportunities to those in impoverished districts (Broadwater, L. et al., 2017).  There is a drastic, unfair discrepancy within the races regarding median income as well as unemployment. According to the Baltimore Sun, the median income for the African-American household in Baltimore is at an average of $33,301 annually while the average median income for the white household is at $62,751 annually which explains the reasoning behind the unemployment rate for blacks being three times higher than the white rate (Broadwater, L.

et al., 2017). Each of the characters in The Wire experience living in condensed poverty along with racial injustices. Michael Lee is an example of one of the individuals who was born into intense poverty along with a poor support system in his environment which contributed to the dangerous, violent altercations that we has unfortunately left to face.

The socioeconomic model will properly prove how various influences alter Michael’s life, choices and overall outcomes for life. On the individual level of the socioeconomic model, the characteristics that shape this level are solely based on an individual’s personal traits such as race, age, gender, genetics, level of education, occupation, health behaviors, resources or beliefs. Michael experiences various traumas such as having been sexually abused by his younger brother’s father as well as taking full responsibility for the upbringing of his younger brother due to their drug-addicted mother’s incompetence to raise him. Research has proven that children who encounter traumatic life occurrences such as sexual abuse and neglect are more prone to face severe cognitive dysfunction as well as psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse (Khoury, L.

, Tang, Y. L., Bradley, B., Cubells, J. F., & Ressler, K. J.

,2010). Child abuse and neglect in the city of Baltimore are extremely high which results into death or near-fatal incidents. Baltimore’s child maltreatment report total out at about twenty percent of Maryland’s overall reports (Sun, Y. W., 2014). These statistics evidently presented the societal issues that affect an individual’s life negatively as in Michael Lee’s case. Interpersonal relationships are crucial to one’s own personal development and growth. In this section, Michael’s social circle will be presented by including background information on his family life.

Being raised by a drug-addicted mother, sexually abusive stepfather and taking on the responsibility of raising his younger brother, Bug, Michael finds himself struggling with distorted emotional and psychological dilemmas. Children of parents with substance abuse issues are at a higher risk of having an alcohol and/or drug addiction by the time of young adulthood in comparison to others (Solis, J. M., Shadur, J. M.

, Burns, A. R., & Hussong, A. M. (2012, June). Children who are raised by parents who suffer from substance abuse addiction are three times more likely to suffer some kind of abuse while the neglect rate to be about four times higher than those who are not raised by a parent or parents without a substance about addiction (Parental Drug Addiction and Its Destructive Impact on Children, 2012). Organizational factors heavily impact an individual by helping someone develop a sense of who they are and where they are placed in terms of society. The education system in impoverished areas have proven to be terribly inadequate, consist of rates of extremely weak test scores, and overall low success stories of graduates in high schools.

Urban areas lack updated supplies, materials and overall room and ability for students to learn, grow and excel from an academic standpoint. Many urban inner city areas that have highly condensed populations of African-Americans suffer from dramatic disadvantages with high rates of unemployment, poor health and living conditions, substance abuse addictions, crime and the survival off federal welfare; this leaves disadvantaged communities at loss for educational or safe recreational resources or “safety net” of stability which would prevent dropout rates from increasing, students acquiring valuable knowledge all within a safe environment (Rumberger, R. W., PhD. (n.

d.).  Referring back to the childhood abuse and neglect section, children who are raised in poverty often have a deeply rooted mistrust towards authority figures whether it be school staff, police, or government workers due to childhood trauma they may have experienced with family members. This same mistrust lives strong throughout a lifetime, especially in the school system. School climate concerns such as absenteeism, truancy, bullying, trust and engagement issues are struggled by the student of high-poverty rate school systems (Slade, S. (2015, July 24). The community environment factor of the socioecological model fall on the aspects of the cultural and physical factors that help categorize a certain region. Most urban cities lack “green space” such as parks, recreational areas, community gardens or any visual or concrete area of nature.

The World Health Organization has reported that urban green spaces have the ability to improve physical, social, psychological welfare, help produce clean air quality and regulate noise levels (WHO, 2016).  The benefits of green spaces are extensive which can help prolong a healthy, happy life that lowers the risks of disease, remove pollution, filter the air and even contribute as groceries from the garden. The conflict with developing an urban green space is the social justice aspect of the situation, as the communities that may not have the ability to afford such a luxury are the ones who face extreme health disparities and are in critical need of solutions to prevent health issues from occurring (Wolch, J. R., J. B.

, & Newell, J. P., 2014). Public policies are the determining factors which a society abides by in regards to social constitutions, health policy, racism and economic conditions. The social promotion policy is one that is implemented in most urban education systems where students who may have not met the criteria to move up in grade level, yet the educational administration promotes students despite their shortcomings or their ability to complete a higher level grade. A survey during Education Week concludes that most students of high-poverty cities lack knowledge in simple areas such as reading children’s books at the fourth grade level, eighth graders are not able to solve easy arithmetic problems and more than half of urban-city high schoolers fail to graduate or graduate with no basic skill set for higher education (Ravitch, D.

, 2016, July 28).  It has been proven that most urban cities hire inexperienced teaching staff with a strong lack of determination to teach young students; schools of densely concentrated poverty areas consisting of African-American and Latino students have a greater chance of having inexperienced as well as unfit educators, increased remedial courses and lack of opportunity for advanced courses (Brue, P. A.

, (n.d.). The interpersonal level of the socioeconomic model should be the first in line to be supported for numerous reasons, especially for young adolescents as Michael Lee. As a young child, Michael experienced severely traumatic, life-altering conditions such as sexual abuse and neglect from his drug-addicted mother and father who is no longer in his life. Living under these kinds of circumstances, an individual such as Michael will have little to no trust in adults or authority figures, may feel obligated to risk being put into danger to survive, will have involved himself into drugs or violence, and ultimately suffer from cruel psychological issues or disorders that will affect him his overall lifetime.

Also, he is the sole provider for her his younger brother which applies an immense amount of pressure to a thirteen year old boy living in extreme poverty to survive for two people at a time. With little to no supervision at home due long working hours of the parent, lack of safe outdoor and indoor activities or recreational facilities, danger of children playing outside, high-crime rate and high-violence areas often lead children to make dangerous, illegal or unsafe decisions (Roffman, J. G., Pagano, M. E., & Hirsch, B. J.,2001, March 01).

Children of low-income urban areas who participate in afterschool and community programs in a supervised and welcoming setting have been found to suffer less from socioemotional troubles (Roffman, J. G., Pagano, M. E., & Hirsch, B. J.,et al.

2001, March 01). In order for members of the youth in urban areas to find a sense of peace, there should be various after-school programs, social support groups, sports and activities for everyone to enjoy, rejuvenate and have a safe haven to turn to. Many prevention programs have been established for individuals living in urban cities across the United States.

A primary prevention example of improving the school system for low-income minorities would be to establish a climate of welcoming, support, caring, sense of belongingness to an institution and a motivational environment for students (The Role of Supportive School Environments in Promoting Academic Success. (n.d.

). The character of Mr. Coleman who helped create an in-school program generated for students to help them succeed on a different and personal level in The Wire, is an excellent example of a secondary prevention for the minority youth in impoverished regions. In-school programs such as ones that have parents involved with their child’s academic and social progress, behavior programs in which well-behaved children are rewarded while children who misbehave are not, and anti-bullying programs help to establish a more efficient and safe learning environment where parents, children and educators feel welcomed (Office of the Surgeon General (US),1970). Lastly, a tertiary option for prevention would include a wide range of opportunity in various forms of learning for students of urban cities to feel valued.

Art-based schools and programs for individuals of the inner-city will provide a new source of learning, allow students to explore intriguing skill sets, efficiently prepare students for the workforce, learning of interpersonal skills and community engagement (Charmaraman, L., & Hall, G., 2011).

Social promotion in urban city schools is policy that is simply hindering the students who are not receiving a thorough education, adequately preparing the youth for the workforce or providing students in minorities sufficient effort to succeed academically. This act of forcefully moving students up to a higher grade has not proven to help students advance in academics, negatively affects students’ mindsets on future success which often leads to dropping out, and does not provide students with proper education (Doherty, K. M.,2017, August 30). There are outlets in which educators may use advanced techniques and teachings to assist students in reaching their full potential, detection of “early warning signs” through test scores, attendance, and behavior, which deems social promotion as unimportant for students; students who are promoted throughout their education will fall short beneath their peers which can be a trigger to avoid graduation or in worse cases, may be struggling with a learning disability and an educator failed to notice due to the social promotion policy (Concepts, L. (2014, August 07).

In conclusion,  The Wire, sufficiently and evidently illustrated each of the levels of the socioecological model as well issues that people of African-American race that are living in urban, underprivileged conditions encounter in regards to poverty, health disparities, institutional discrimination, and racism. Viewing this series will provide a fully detailed image of how African-Americans of inner-city play a large role in the conflicts within society and how those conflicts interlace with today’s society.

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