The Guardian reports that a new document from a government watchdog suggests that some children separated from their families under Donald Trump’s administration are experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD).
The report, which was obtained by The Associated Press, is based on interviews with approximately 100 mental health clinicians who regularly interacted with the children. These interactions took place during a period when facilities were reportedly overwhelmed and at least 2,500 children were purportedly separated from their parents.
“Facilities reported that addressing the needs of separated children was particularly challenging, because these children exhibited more fear, feelings of abandonment and post-traumatic stress than children who were not separated,” said deputy inspector general Ann Maxwell. “Separated children are also younger than the teenagers facilities were used to caring for.”
In response, Lynn Johnson, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) assistant secretary, claims that the average length of stay for children in the department has decreased. She also says that many of the issues in the report were beyond the agency’s control. In addition, a separate HHS report addressed the watchdog report and claimed that PTSD symptoms could stem from experiences the children had in their home countries.
“Every single separated kid has been terrified,” an HHS program director said in the department’s report, per CNN. “We’re [seen as] the enemy.”
'I can’t feel my heart': children separated under Trump show signs of PTSD, watchdog finds https://t.co/r45YNUvcfK
— The Guardian (@guardian) September 5, 2019
One particularly disturbing case in the watchdog report involves a boy separated from his father without explanation. According to a program director, the boy, who was 7- or 8-years-old, believed that his father was killed and that he would be killed as well.
According to the report, much of the “psychological pain” experienced by the children separated from their parents manifested into physical pain.
“You get a lot of ‘my chest hurts,’ even though everything is fine [medically],” the program director said. “Children describe symptoms, ‘Every heartbeat hurts,’ ‘I can’t feel my heart,’ of emotional pain.”
Trump’s approach to the border has been controversial, to say the least. Per The Inquisitr, Trump reportedly attempted to divert criticism from his approach to the border by suggesting that former President Barack Obama was separating children long before him. In response, The Daily Beast reports that Fox News host Shepard Smith highlighted that although Obama put immigrants in prison-like conditions, he never separated children from their families upon arrival at the border — save for a few exceptions.
Smith also noted that Obama did consider implementing a separation policy but reportedly chose to ensure families remain together.