Separated Children From Their Families Have Been Diagnosed With PTSD

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : November 27, 2021

According to a new study’s results, all the children who were separated from their parents under the previous President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy of immigration have been going through persistent psychological trauma, in spite of being reunited with their respective families.

Separated Children From Their Families Have Been Diagnosed With PTSD

During President Donald Trump’s tenure, between the years 2017 and 2018, over five thousand kids were separated from their respective parents and families at the border of the United States of America and Mexico under a policy that was aimed at dissuading all the asylum seekers who had taken refuge in America.

Separated Children From Their Families Have Been Diagnosed With PTSD

This practice had been discouraged by all medical experts as well as human rights activists and termed cruel and harsh. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics went as far as calling this policy “government-authorized child abuse”, though it was eventually reversed in the courts.

That was not where it ended though. As per a task force that was set up by the current U.S President Joe Biden, as of August 2021, over 1800 kids still remained separated from their families and the United States Federal authorities are under further negotiations to figure out ways to compensate these families.

However, a fresh study that was conducted about this policy offers a glimpse of its repercussions on the mental health of the families.

As per the study reports, it was concluded that of the twenty-five families who had been separated at the America – Mexico border under this policy, almost all the children as well as parents had been suffering from some kind of symptoms of a psychiatric ailment, even after being united with their families.

Some of the most common diagnoses concluded had been psychological conditions like anxiety disorders, which included separation anxiety in a few of those kids, extreme depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

According to the senior medical adviser of the non-profit organization Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), Dr. Ranit Mishori, these families had been going through what is referred to as “compound trauma”.

Many of them had been victims of ill-treatment while they were in their home country and had escaped because of violence or facing threats of violence and after making it to the American border after going through the trauma of persecution, they had been locked up in a detention center.

And when these kids were taken away, their parents were not provided any information about their whereabouts or if and when there was a possibility of a reunion.

Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that there have been psychological consequences of these practices. However, according to Dr. Mishori, since this section of the population is difficult to access for researchers, there is limited hard data available.

According to the senior medical director of the community pediatrics program at Children’s Hospital, Montefiore in New York City, this piece of information is vital for the policymakers to realize what consequences their actions can have as the psychological impact just doesn’t disappear after the families have been reunited, which in itself is not a seamless process as there are built up emotions like fear, anger, and guilt to be dealt with. And research shows that imprints of childhood trauma can be long-lasting.

According to the deputy director of PHR’s Asylum Program, Kathryn Hampton, there is a need to have a hard look at how these immigration policies have adversely impacted lives and ways of preventing it.

Dr. Shapiro concluded that since these families had left their home countries for the sake of their lives, such rigid “zero tolerance” policies should never be implemented.

Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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