A Neuroscience Perspective on the Lifelong Consequences of Detaining Kids at the Border

Originally posted in Neuwrite San Diego, July 26, 2018

If you’ve been even partially tuned in to the news over the last few months, you’ve heard about the gut-wrenching separation of children from their parents at the United States border and the detainment centers where these children have been held.

“Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.”  — Quote from Donald Trump’s 1987 book The Art of the Deal, displayed on a mural of the president at a Brownsville, Texas detainment center in which over 1,500 immigrant children were held after being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

You may have seen pictures of young kids in cages, been watching when Rachel Maddow broke down reading the headline “Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents to at least three ‘tender age’ shelters in South Texas,” or seen the emotional impact on politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren when they visited these centers for themselves. You may have even tuned in when Melania Trump stated that detained children were “in this situation as a direct result of adult actions,” placing blame on parents trying to protect their families by escaping a dire situation in their home country –something likely unfathomable to most of us. 

The world continues to tune in as children, many visibly in a state of confusion, are reunited with their parents and testimonies are released.

[My son] is not the same since we were reunited. I thought that, because he is so young he would not be traumatized by this experience, but he does not separate from me. He cries when he does not see me. That behavior is not normal. In El Salvador he would stay with his dad or my sister and not cry. Now he cries for fear of being alone.

–Testimony from mother Olivia Caceres, who was separated from her 1-year-old son for 85 days, reported by PBS NewsHour on July 5th.

Many families are still waiting to be reunited… 

Continued at Neuwrite San Diego

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