Traumatic Effects Of The Separation Policy

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Traumatic Effects Of The Separation Policy

A topic that has been recently prevalent in media is the separation of families at the border. The outcry is mostly fueled by the ethical question of taking children away from their parents, but there is evidence that the problem is greater than a mere moral dilemma. An article by The Atlantic discusses the psychological and physical damage that can result from these separations. Traumatic Effects Of The Separation Policy

It is supported by a scholarly article, Excessive Stress Disrupts the Architecture of the Developing Brain: Working Paper 3, written by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. This article seeks to explain the results of toxic stress on the architecture of the developing brain. It is hypothesized that sustained activation of the stress response system can lead to impairments in learning, memory, and the ability to regulate certain stress responses (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2005/2014).

Through various studies on humans and animals alike, researchers have found that this is true. Beginning with studies of rodents who experienced high stress during pregnancy, researchers discovered that offspring of stressed mothers tend to be more stress reactive themselves, even before postnatal development. Further research revealed that high levels of stress can literally change the “shape” of the developing brain. It alters the architecture of parts of the brain having to do with learning and memory, such as the hippocampus.
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A certain amount of this is necessary for child development, as humans must be able to cope with stress in order to survive. When toxic stress is prolonged, however, is when the real damage is done. This can cause the overproduction of neural connections in parts of the brain related to fear and anxiety, and the underproduction of neural connections in regions that control reasoning and behavioral control. In children where normal neural connections have already been made, pruning can occur to “rearrange” their behavioral tendencies in accordance with recent traumatic experiences. This is largely due to the plasticity of the developing human brain. Traumatic Effects Of The Separation Policy

However, research has shown that the presence of a sensitive and responsive caregiver can prevent elevations in cortisol among toddlers, even in children who tend to be temperamentally fearful or anxious (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2005/2014). Having a parent or guardian there to support them in times of high stress reduces the negative, brain-altering effects of toxic stress. Conversely, young children who spend significant amounts of time in poor-quality childcare settings with large ratios of children to adults, less supportive relationships, and more harsh adult-child interactions show larger elevations than those in better quality care (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2005/2014).

The conclusion that the scholarly article came to was that it is extremely important for a child’s development that they can experience stress in a safe environment with the support of a parent or guardian. Also, science does not support the claim that infants and young children are too young to be affected by significant stresses that negatively affect their family and caregiving environments (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2005/2014).

Children of any age, especially under the age of three, are undergoing developmental changes, and can have their brains altered by the cumulative effects of traumatic experiences, such as being separated from their parents. The popular media source mentioned above represented this scholarly work in the context of family separation at the border. It used facts presented in the article to support their argument that the separation policy was causing undue stress to families, and was especially affecting the children involved. “This kind of trauma can permanently affect the brains of these children, and potentially their long-term development” (Khazan, 2018). Traumatic Effects Of The Separation Policy

It is a vicious cycle in which stress hormones are induced by separation from parents, the high stress levels cannot be handled in a healthy way because of the absence of parents, which in turn causes higher stress levels, and so on. “Keeping kids away from their families does not just emotionally wound them. It biologically wounds them as well- in some cases forever” (Khazan, 2018). The media story was accurate in relating the findings and conclusions because it supported statements with information from the original scholarly article and other intellectual sources.

The author mainly focused on the effects of stress on child development, with scientific evidence from the article. They then related this to the stressful current event of child/parent separation. A reader without experience in reading scholarly articles would get an accurate view of the original research from just the news story, due to its factual basis. The news story was surprisingly unbiased for media nowadays, and offered lots of good, scientific evidence. It stuck to the facts and presented them in a way that was easy to understand.Traumatic Effects Of The Separation Policy