What mental impacts can kids who are separated from their parents face?


The White House’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy is resulting in more than 2,000 families being separated at the U.S. – Mexico border.

From politicians to activists, many are calling it a terrifying experience that parents and children face: the possibility of being separated.

Dr. Stephanie Geter: “It’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening to these kids and also to their families.”

Doctor Stephanie Geter is a psychologist at New Beginnings Psychological Services who says the mental impacts these children could face are huge.

Elijah Westbrook: “When you see a picture like this, what goes through your head, what do you think this girl could potentially face when she gets older?
Dr. Geter: “Well I initially look at the emotional distress that she’s experiencing right now. So I think about how frightened she is. The fact that she doesn’t feel safe and know where her parents are let a lone what’s going to happen to her.”

Doctor Geter says children in this situation could face separation anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder and depression which all effect her emotional development.

“There are some things that could happen down the road as part of their development when they’re reunited with their families,” said Stephanie Geter.  “They could have some self blame which could impact their esteem; they could blame their family because they don’t know why their families left them. They could feel abandoned. So now when we’re trying to reunite them, they’re like I’m not sure if I can trust you.”

Many lawmakers in both parties are calling this procedure cruel and inhumane and a form a child abuse. Nearly 2,000 immigrants are separated, not knowing what will happen next and when they will be reunited with their families.

Thousands of people protested across Texas over the weekend, accusing the administration of punishing undocumented children by removing them from their parents.

The administration still defends the strategy.

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