Many or our patients, most of them mothers or mothers-to-be, have expressed distress and outrage related to this past week’s events at our southern border: the separation of young immigrant children from their parents. Children experiencing this sort of traumatic event will suffer both short- and long-term psychological consequences, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD. In response to these events, multiple professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have issued statements condemning this practice.
While few children in the United States will experience this sort of trauma, many more children are exposed to other kinds of traumatic events: death of a loved one, exposure to violence in their community or in their family, experiencing a natural disaster, suffering an injury or a serious medical illness.
For those of our readers who would like to learn more about the nature of trauma in children, the Child Mind Institute has put together an excellent set of articles on this topic. While the articles are written primarily for parents, the information is clearly presented and will also be of interest to clinicians who work with families.
Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD