Local psychologist discusses effects of border separations on children

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, since early May more than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

It’s a consequence of a new immigration strategy by the Trump Administration that was reversed on Wednesday after Trump signed a new executive order designed to help keep migrant families together.

UMKC psychology professor Erin Hambrick said one of the most glaring problems with the new order is that it mentioned nothing about reuniting the children who have already been separated from their parents.

Hambrick, who also serves as the director of research for The Child Trauma Academy, said the separations can have lasting effects on the children who may not be as psychologically equipped to handle the stress involved.

Hambrick said long-term stress can affect those children's overall health for years to come.

“When you have early trauma that’s prolonged and severe you can have consequences that extend beyond mental health problems, beyond depression, beyond PTSD. You can have cardiac issues and serious health problems and morbidity associated so this is really a situation that I think is putting a lot of children as risk,” Hambrick explained.

She said limiting detention, reuniting children with their families and providing mental health services to those affected by this are all solutions she thinks can help limit further trauma to children.