The mental health effects of separating children from their parents

Dr. Dolly Lucio Sevier’s, of the Brownsville Kiddie Health Center, sat down with CBS 4 to talk about the long term mental damage separating children from their families can cause.

Dr. Dolly Lucio Sevier of the Brownsville Kiddie Health Center sat down with CBS 4 to talk about the long term mental damage separating children from their families can cause.

She calls it complex trauma: creating mentally unstable adults for the future.

“And even if they get their parent back, there’s nothing in the world that’s going to make them that this can’t happen again,” Dr. Sevier said.

According to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, children who face serious adversity can face many mental health problems, that could even result in early death.

“And then we immediately— in the middle of all the trauma — we took away the most important person in their life, which is the person who is supposed to normalize trauma for them,” said Sevier.

Sevier explains in order to create a physically and emotionally stable adult, you need a childhood that’s free of serious trauma. She said that’s because parents can be a comfort zone for children who go through traumatic times.

“You need a loving caregiver and you need that person there almost on a daily basis to normalize pretty much everything in your environment,” said Sevier.

On the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s website, it reads they are only holding children at the shelters, on average, for less than 57 days.

“It honestly doesn’t matter how loving the caregiver are at that place,” said Sevier. “The fact is that these kids have undoubtedly already suffered trauma.”

Also on the ORR’s website, workers at the facilities do provide physical and mental healthcare for the children that are housed.

CBS 4 did reach out to the ORR for a response, but did not receive a comment on the effect detainment could have on them mentally.

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