While politicians point blame fingers, migrant children continue to be separated and held from parents. Recent facility visits found children filthy, lice and flu outbreaks, no soap, inadequate meals and water. They sleep on cold concrete floors under bright lights while our DOJ shamefully argues that these are “safe and sanitary conditions”.
A professional career working with children exposed me to abundant research and experience on the negative and lasting consequences of separation and neglect. Bonding, beginning in the womb, continues and expands to significant others after birth. This is crucial for brain development. Children deal with stress through their parents, a biological fact. Thus we are traumatizing these children in the most destructive and lasting way possible. We inflict the initial stress; separation, and then block the critical resource to deal with that stress. The stage is set for lifelong vulnerabilities including learning problems, inability to regulate emotions, aggression, drug use, emotional attachment problems, and increased risk of physical and psychological illnesses. Depriving basic needs with the only support coming from older traumatized children compounds the damage.
There is no time for blaming. This is morally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally wrong. Each day that we turn away and refuse to do anything, the harm is intensified to them and to us. They lose their potential and some their lives. We lose our humanity. These children will be grown adults one day. Many will have major problems and guess who they likely will be blaming? Rightfully us.
Becky Slater, Kerrville