Greek Debt Crisis: Children Too Hungry To Exercise In PE Class

Greek Children Too Hungry For Gym Class

Greek budget cuts have taken a toll on even schoolchildren.

Many Greek schoolchildren are too underfed to exercise in physical education class anymore, wrote Victoria Prekate, an Athens schoolteacher, in an e-mail to The Guardian. They get dizzy when they try to exercise. In response, schools and parents' associations are gathering food to distribute it to children who need it the most, according to Prekate.

Some Greek parents have abandoned their children because they no longer can afford to pay to take care of them, BBC News reports. Hundreds of parents have approached one Athens nonprofit to ask if they could leave their children there, according to the BBC. In December, a kindergarten teacher found a note about one of her four-year-old students: "I will not be coming to pick up Anna today because I cannot afford to look after her.... Please take good care of her. Sorry. Her mother."

Hungry children have not been able to keep up appearances. A 13-year-old schoolboy fainted in school in Crete in December, after his family had not eaten for two days, according to Athens News. Some Greek schoolchildren have been diagnosed with starvation, and others wear shoes with holes in them, Athens teacher Dimitris Margiolis told the Greek news outlet NewsIt.

The Greek government has been forced to make deep budget cuts in order to receive new bailouts from international lenders. Its latest budget cuts -- $4.31 billion in all -- slash pensions, healthcare spending, education spending and defense spending. The cuts have deepened the depression in Greece, where the unemployment rate is 21 percent and more than one in two youths are unemployed.

Austerity has not even helped Greece's budget, since lower incomes have led to lower tax revenues, leading to higher deficits.

Some Greeks facing joblessness have chosen to take their own lives. Suicides in Greece spiked 40 percent in the first half of 2011, according to Greek government data cited by the Wall Street Journal. A Greek woman and her husband threatened to commit suicide in February because the government was shutting down their agency due to budget cuts.

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