The People Pro® Blog

The Traumatization of Children

By Barbara Bartlein, RN, MSW

As we watch the gut-wrenching abuse of young children at the border, one has to question what effects trauma has on young children, adolescents and young adults.  As any mental health professional will tell you, it is not good.

Traumatic events in children’s lives can have the same effect as head trauma, a new study says.

The study, published recently in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, finds that emotional trauma at a young age may cause changes to the brain that are similar to head trauma.

Trauma can cause lasting changes in the areas of the brain that deal with stress including the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex.  This can lead to many psychological issues including anxiety, depression, dissociation, impulsivity, low self-esteem, PTSD, personality disorders and substance abuse.

Lack of proper attachment, such as separating young children from their primary caregiver, dramatically affects brain development.  The neural pathways in the brain do not form properly and trauma damages neurons.

As a mother and a mental health professional, I have grave concerns over any policy that further traumatizes young children. The children arriving at the border have already experienced immense trauma and an appropriate response should be help and resources--not a cage.

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