Understanding Childhood Attachment Trauma

Young girl crying for her motherI ask that we all take a moment to understand what is happening inside the hearts and brains of the children sitting in warehouses right now alone, yearning to be nurtured, slowly dying for their parents. Trauma can be defined as a deeply disturbing event or series of events outside the normal human experience. Chronic early childhood trauma–such as the forceful separation of a child from his or her parents–is not merely traumatic, it constitutes torture. This is not “homesick kid at camp” syndrome. Childhood attachment trauma’s impact is pervasive and permanently harmful. It is one of the most perverse and damaging things that can be done to the most vulnerable of all people. Pervasive harm means that it it impacts a wide range of functioning beyond the initial extreme emotional distress. Permanent harm means that some of these conditions are irreversible or will have some negative impact throughout the course of the child’s life. Children who have experienced severe and chronic childhood trauma experience:

  • onset of developmental delays (a sudden inability to develop along a “normal” trajectory for age),
  • atrophied cognitive functioning (poor memory recall, communication difficulties),
  • regressive behaviors (i.e. loss of toilet training skills, feeding skills or other previously achieved milestones),
  • physical response/ shock (shallow breathing, chronic pain, clammy skin),
  • disassociation (“frozen” or rocking behavior, no/ little ability to engage in eye contact, loss of speech, screaming/ wailing/ moaning)
  • attachment disturbance (inability or difficulty experiencing normal, healthy attachments, relationships, boundaries)

Brain activity scan

We must understand that this is not simply an emotional hardship. This is a physical injury being perpetrated on children.

For those of us who have worked or are currently working with children who have experienced child abuse, chronic trauma and/ or prolific adverse childhood experiences know that the policy of separating children from their parents or primary caregiver has zero to do with political party. It is an abuse of human rights. It is torture in its cruelest form. It is what keeps us up at night.

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” -William Wilberforce

*I have been encouraged by some to not speak about “political things” if I want my business to be successful. More importantly than business, my life will be successful if I speak and live with integrity. Everything else will take care of itself.

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