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Many children will experience a brief encounter with traumatic separation in their lifetimes. You can hear the wailing hysteria of fear and confusion when a child loses track of their mother, father, or caregiver in a crowded place. From as small as a department store to as large as a stadium or a theme park, the size of space does not matter to the size of trauma happening to the child. Depending on a child’s age, they may not know how to talk, how to ask for help, how to give out their mother’s phone number, or how to describe what their caregiver looks like or where they were seen last. Not dependent on a child’s age is the inability to fully cope with and regulate the severe stress, as well as distress, which occurs during separation. Children are riddled with fear beyond their comprehension, which has a lifelong affect on their physical as well as their mental health. Some researchers have concluded that upwards of 30 percent of mental health disorders among adults are the result of adverse childhood experiences, called ACEs.

Children and toxic stress

What children who are being detained and separated from their parents at international borders experience is exceptionally different than the average American child being separated from their caregiver in a store. Whereas the store-lost child will likely find their parent and return to a safe home which they are familiar with, the same cannot be said for these children. Frequently, being separated from parents at an international border is neither the first nor the last traumatic experience for that child. Refugees seeking asylum from crime or war torn countries have already survived a wealth of trauma. Going through the detention/deportation process, which could include returning to a traumatizing home, contribute to the worsening of a child’s mental health.

Toxic stress impacts the development of a child’s brain. Children are incapable of processing the severe stress of traumatic separation like adults. Overloaded with an insurmountable amount of toxic stress, their developing brains will never be able to “catch-up” in developing the stress management skills they need. Chronic toxic stress and a chronic inability to efficiently regulate stress of any kind leads to ongoing molecular inflammation, causing mental and physical illness.

In our next blog, we’ll discuss the immediate and long-term effects of traumatic separations in children.

Childhood trauma can be resolved and healed. If you are living with unresolved trauma, you are welcome here, at The Guest House Ocala. We offer residential treatment programs for traumas, addictions, and related mental health issues. Call us today for information on our concierge customization and life at the estate: 1-855-483-7800