Family Separation and Trauma

The Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development strives to help children suffering from the effects of early trauma, abuse, and/or neglect. Research tells us these experiences of early harm make children vulnerable to a host of lifelong challenges from behavioral problems to mental illness and chronic health problems.

As developmental psychologists, we are painfully aware of the likely outcomes for the nearly 2,000 children who have been separated from their families at our country’s borders since April of this year. Research has demonstrated time and time again that prolonged separation between child and caregiver results in relational trauma, which affects all aspects of development, including brain development to social, emotional, and cognitive development.

The crux of our work is the research-backed, evidence-based fact that children need a trusted caregiver during times of distress. Without a trusted caregiver to meet their emotional needs, the predicted outcome for these children is dire. While we know that holistic, trauma-informed interventions can help these children heal, the best solution is to stop trauma before intervention is necessary.

We know that the effects of trauma ripple throughout the lifespan. Because we know better, we must do better.

2 Responses to “Family Separation and Trauma”

  1. Schmitz

    I have learned so much from you about how to reach and love my traumatized students. Thank you for standing up for this!

  2. Amy

    Thanks for this public statement. While I know you are in the business of helping children, it’s not always easy for an educational institution to make a statement that goes against the grain of the political climate.

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