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Psychologist: Separated migrant children's "basic trust is robbed"

Posted at 8:13 PM, Jun 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-20 20:13:24-04

A Clinical Psychologist said migrant children who were separated from their parents could see life-long impacts.

"What was our most horrific fear as children? What was it? That mommy and daddy would go away," Dr. Peggy Mustelier, a clinical psychologist, told Fox 4.

She said the trauma of being separated from their families add to the trauma these kids have already faced in their journey to the U.S.

"We're looking at probably a lot of traumas already that led to this point. I have to believe the average reasonable parent would not leave their country and uproot their lives without serious cause," Dr. Mustelier said.

She said kids in the earlier stages of life -- from a few months to a few years old -- are more likely to internalize this trauma, leading to the possibility of depression, development issues, and problems with behavior and learning.

"Then as they get older, you're more likely to have acting out," Dr. Mustelier said.

She said one common thread is that basic trust is shattered, and kids in this situation may end up having trouble forming relationships, dealing with their emotions, and having problems with self esteem.

"This isn't a what if, this isn't a percentage will. No. Every child there, this will leave a permanent mark and affect their development. There's no way around it," she said.

President trump did sign an executive order to keep families together. Dr. Mustelier said it is possible for this to be corrected, but the proper steps must be taken to reinstate a feeling of security and safety in these children and provide support to redirect their development in the right direction.