With the issue of child/parent separation in regards to illegal immigration suddenly in the spotlight after so long, very important points are being highlighted. Taking children away from their families in any situation unless it is an abusive or neglective one is going to cause some problems for that child.
That being said, these children especially are put through more than they should be. They are put in cages basically and treated as if they were the ones in the wrong when they cannot help the actions of their parents. Take a look at the video below, should these children be living like this?
This kind of thing is clearly a huge problem and while we are making strides to resolve these issues and things are changing it doesn’t mean awareness should not be brought to the mental and emotional issues these children and the many before them have and will face as a result of this. Adverse childhood experiences or events are things that traumatically affect children. These things can and do lead to some very prominent long-term issues.
PBS reported as follows in regards to what this kind of toxic stress does to the body:
When humans and animals feel threatened, their bodies produce stress hormones. This biological response triggers a chain of events that evolved to help us recognize and survive dangerous situations.
First, your amygdala — where fear registers in the brain — fires off signals. Your brain’s hypothalamus sounds the alarm for the rest of your body. Your body’s adrenal glands and tissue, located near your kidneys, release adrenaline –the “fight-or-flight” hormone — along with norepinephrine and cortisol, another stress hormone. With these hormones surging through your body, your heart races, your muscles contract, your breath quickens and your blood pressure rises. Your brain is preparing the body for how to handle trauma, said Nim Tottenham, a psychologist, and researcher with the Developmental Affective Neuroscience Lab at Columbia University.
This happens when a child cries because they are hungry or throws a tantrum over a toy. In a stable environment, a familiar adult calms them, which tells their body’s alert system to stand down. In response, the child’s heartbeat slows to its normal pace. They can take a deep breath and relax.
This plays out a bit differently at the border. For almost two thousand immigrant children the one person who is able to make that switch for them is nowhere to be found and chances are they don’t get much information about anything either so they do not know where to begin in finding comfort. We are without a doubt causing unnecessary strain on these children, we are borderline abusing them when you break it down. This is a form of trauma and it will change them.
Nim Tottenham who spoke with PBS as you read in their report continued on to say that trauma like this has biological consequences on the brains of these children. Their development and so forth is going to suffer because of this. This kind of thing will follow them well into adulthood and the negative long-term consequences of toxic stress are not as easy to treat as you might think.
Family separation is not the answer. What do you think about all of this?
Image via VOX