An ACE for Trump is not a good thing

Trauma in childhood often causes life-long harm. During more than forty years as a clinical psychologist, I worked with many people who experienced various forms of trauma. I did not treat children, but I am familiar with the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) research that proves that early trauma, abuse and neglect damage the brains of children.

The Trump administration policy that results in separating children from the their parents and incarcerating the parents is an example of an Adverse Childhood Experience for the children. Many of these families are fleeing dangerous conditions, so these children may already have experienced danger and violence. Then they have the stress of the dangerous and grueling journey just getting to our border to seek asylum. To add the trauma of being taken from their parents and having a parent incarcerated is additional extreme distress. The higher a person scores on the ACE test, the higher the risk of developing many physical and emotional health problems and dysfunctional behaviors.

The effects of adverse childhood experiences can be reduced with proper treatment and safe conditions. But each bad experience adds to the damage and increases the risk of terrible consequences. We must do everything we can to reduce trauma, not add more, especially to children. Blaming parents and other politicians does not absolve anyone from their responsibility and complicity. We will all live with the consequences of traumatizing a child. Not trying to minimize harm is just as negligent as committing it.

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