Long Term Effects of Trauma on Forcibly Separated Children

BROWARD COUNTY – Over the last few weeks our country has been gripped by images of crying children ripped from the arms of their parents.

The knowledge of how such trauma and the resulting toxic stress effects the brain development of even very young children has driven the Children’s Services Council of Broward County (CSC) to speak out.

The mission of the CSC is to provide the leadership, advocacy and resources to help children grow into responsible, productive adults.  As such, we cannot sit on the sidelines as we see children subjected to these brutal actions.

Recently the acronym ACEs has been widely used in connection with what is happening to these children.  ACEs are Adverse Childhood Experiences.

20 years of research by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified a clear correlation between ACEs and an increased risk of social and emotional impairment and the adoption of health risk behaviors such as substance abuse and alcoholism, poor physical and behavioral health outcomes and reduced life expectancy.  A lot of these people end up in an addiction rehab program at least once in their lifetime

Long Term Effects of Trauma on Forcibly Separated Children
A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border. (Image via Getty)

Yes, the trauma being inflicted today can have lifelong consequences including chronic illness and premature death.

Therefore, the following steps must be taken immediately to try ameliorate as much as possible the damage that has already been done.

  1. Make reunification a priority!
  2. Allow access to the children by trauma trained professionals and the media
  3. Ensure all facilities holding children including those run by ICE, DOD and DOJ meet the same federal standards for health, safety and trauma-informed care that are expected of any foster care facility run by HHS
  4. Make sure that those caring for the children are using trauma informed care
  5. Limit the number of moves the children are subjected to
  6. Workers must be allowed to comfort crying children

No one should rest until these children are reunited with their families and given the support the United States now owes them.  America is better than these current actions have indicated, let’s reclaim our moral standing and show who we really are.

Beam Furr – Chair – Children’s Services Council of Broward County

Cindy Arenberg Seltzer – President/CEO – Children’s Services Council of Broward County


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