This is a story related by Dr. Alicia Hart to The New Yorker:
The guardians didn’t step more than two feet away from the kid. One of the four was an armed police officer. I thought, Does it take an army of adult men to take care of one elementary schooler? I walked over to the boy, crouched down, and asked him, in Spanish, ‘How do you feel?’ ‘Sad,’ he said.
“The boy had been in custody for over a month. One of his guardians told me that he had been ‘acting out’ and threatening to harm himself, by jumping from his bed. This man told me, ‘I’m his clinician,’ but he was definitely not a doctor. I don’t know if he’s a social worker, a medical assistant, a housekeeper. I have no clue. But he obviously had been granted some sort of authority in regard to assessing children and determining what their needs are. He wouldn’t provide basic background. I couldn’t find out any information because he would say, ‘I’m not at liberty to tell you that’ and ‘You don’t need to know that,’ even though a lot of my questions were relevant to taking care of the child. I was asking things like ‘Where are his parents?’
“One of the men told me that the boy had crossed the border alone, but I didn’t know if I was getting the true story—if he had been separated from his mother and father before or after he entered the country. The man who called himself a clinician also told me that they knew where his parents were, and one of them was in the United States. I didn’t know if that meant in custody or not.
“What bothers me is, if you know where this parent is, why can we not contact them for consent? They aren’t even made aware if their child has an injury if their child is having a breakdown. These are people who were desperate for a better life and crossed the border. Why are their parental rights being taken away?
“I asked the clinician, ‘When is this child going to be reunited with his parents?’ He was evasive. First, it was ‘Oh, well, we don’t know.’ And then it was ‘Well, he won’t be reunited with his parents unless he behaves.’ The lack of compassion was scary, and it didn’t seem like there was really a plan.
“This boy seemed devastated—quiet and withdrawn. He barely spoke. I asked if he needed a hug. I kneeled down in front of the recliner, and this kid just threw himself into my arms and didn’t let go. He cried and I cried. And to think he’s been in a facility for a month without a hug, away from his parents, and scared, and not knowing when he’ll see them again or if he’ll see them again. While I held him, I heard the men standing behind me muttering that I was ‘rewarding his bad behavior.’ Thankfully, it was in English, so I don’t think the boy understood what they were saying, but it just revealed their attitudes toward these kids.
Dr. Hart referred the boy for inpatient psychiatric treatment because she believed that he would be better cared for than in the detention center.
Of course the best thing for a child this young is to be reunited with his family.
The only reason to keep them separated is that they present a danger to his well being, and that does not appear to be the case here.
It was reported earlier that these detention workers are not allowed to make physical contact with the children in their care.
That is to protect the detainees from physical and sexual abuse, which is a good idea, except that in the cases of young children it deprives them of the kind of physical comfort that they desperately need.
Without that these young children will grow up with potential mental health problems like reactive attachment disorder, disruptive mood swings, and even sociopathy.
In other words, this kind of treatment could result in creating exactly the kinds of people that the Trump Administration seems afraid are already pouring into this country.