The Pain Of Separation: Being Together Is A Fundamental Right

The Pain of Divorce: Being Together is a Fundamental Right

A child never forgets that it has been separated from its parents. This pain of separation is so heartbreaking that it can leave an irreparable scar. A child can suffer from it for the rest of his life. This is what the little ones who are (or have been) abruptly and violently separated from their parents on the US-Mexico border feel.

In June 2018, several newspapers from around the world published several photos and videos of the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. The US government has established a number of facilities to house children separately from their parents.

In these facilities, dozens of children cry and ask for their families from metal cages. These images show the most inhumane and cruel side of humanity.

These were the children of Central American immigrants who had entered the country illegally. Although these children were innocent, they were given a very severe sentence. They were forcibly separated from their parents.

The fact is that as of May 2018, more than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents by the US government. This separation is part of the “zero tolerance” policy of illegal immigration, which has been put in place by President Donald Trump.

Although the president has reversed the policy of this separation after much social pressure, many children have still not been reunited with their families. Experts in child psychology say it’s too late to limit the damage. The wounds created by such a traumatic experience are in many cases permanent.

Children behind fence

The Pain of Separation: A Permanent Scar

The photo at the beginning of this article has traveled all over the world. It portrays well what the pain of separation looks like. The fear and bewilderment in the child’s face speaks volumes.

It is a two-year-old Honduran girl. The authorities arrested her along with her mother on the border. Fortunately, this child stayed with her mother, but she still felt the threat of the authorities. She certainly saw the fear and panic on her mother’s face when they were rounded up.

For more than 70 years, psychologists have been investigating the effects trauma has on children’s minds. It is a known fact that nothing affects a child’s physical, neurological and emotional development more than being separated from their parents, be it temporary or permanent.

Many of the 2,000 displaced children were forcibly separated from their parents, which is the worst possible way for this to happen.

Violence amplifies the impact of the trauma. We know that after these separations, the children go through three phases: protest, despair and detachment. Once they get into the detachment stage, they don’t care whether or not you feed them or meet their physical needs.

The emptiness left by the absence of that familiar figure who offers affection, security and attention leaves the child in a state of absolute helplessness.

sad child

Anxiety: the beginning of the pain

The pain of separation comes from an indisputable source: anguish. Nature has programmed humans to react in this way. When we are separated from our main social circle, we experience many different emotions. Stress, anxiety and uncertainty are among the top three.

All these feelings determine the emotional agony. It doesn’t even matter if they were bad parents. Yet the pain of separation from these individuals leaves children in a state of absolute despair.

Little by little, this persistent agony changes a child’s physiology. Stress hormones such as cortisol begin to wreak havoc on the immature organism. The brain of a growing child is where the trauma will settle in the mind.

Being together is a fundamental human right

No child should experience a traumatic separation from their parents. Given the constant pattern of migration of people around the world, we need to adopt an essential policy: family formation.

We must not forget what these children have already been through. They left their home and their familiar surroundings for a journey that has not been easy and not comfortable.

When we add the pain of separation to the mix, the impact is devastating. Children with severe mental disorders will grow into adults with the same disorders. A mentally unstable adult is much more dangerous than a child.

It is therefore necessary to make family togetherness a fundamental right that should never be violated between a child and its parents.

Child rests on parent's lap

As John Bowlby said, a young child does not yet know what death is, but it does know what the absence of a mother or a father is. If the only people who can meet their needs are not there, the anguish of separation will be traumatic.

Thus, a wound will open that is difficult to heal, or may never heal. 

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