As a Radical Nurse, I use my voice and passion for humanity to speak out against the inhumane treatment of individuals, and in this case, children. Today, as our collective attention continues to bounce from tragedy to tragedy, the atrocity of forcibly separating children from their families at the US-Mexican border continues. On September 12, 2018, New York Times reporter Caitlin Dickerson cited that the number of children separated is the highest number of detained children ever recorded. Dickerson later reported on September 30th that many of those children have been traumatically relocated in the middle of the night, without notice, to Tornillo, Texas where there are currently no accommodations for schools and they are forced to live in tents.
As Nurses, we know and understand both through clinical practice and literature, that the adverse experiences of these children will have extensive and long-term effects. In addition to having their basic physical needs ignored, the betrayal they have experienced at the hands of those who claim to want to help them will affect their physical and mental health for the entirety of their lives (Teicher, 2018). As horrifying as these atrocities are, forcibly separating children from their families is not new practice for the United States. Native children and African children have been continuously forcibly separated from their homes, families, and subjected to inconceivable acts of violence since this country’s inception. It was not until 1978 that polices were enacted to protect Native Children, through the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. It is no coincidence that the recipients of these horrific acts throughout history are all children of color.
Radical Nurses need to stand against policies that treat children with violence, ignorance, and disrespect. We must stand together to identify policies that impact the care of children in detention centers and advocate as allies to provide caring interventions to end these practices, reunite families, and provide ongoing care for all of those who have been impacted.
Jacqueline Callari Robinson is the owner of Callari Robinson Consulting SC and provides expert forensic nursing consultation. Her research focus is the state of forensic nursing science the care of rural, vulnerable populations, and nursing as an act of social justice. Her professional work seeks to promote healthcare systems and communities to ensure that patients who have experienced violence are treated promptly and compassionately with an algorithmic response that involves collaboration, coordination, and respect for the survivor, team, and community.
McEwen BS. Early life influences on life-long patterns of behavior and health. Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2003;9(3):149–54.
Teicher, M.H. (2018) Childhood trauma and the enduring consequences of forcibly separating children from parents at the United States border. BMC Medicine, 16(1), N.PAG
Van der Kolk BA. The body keeps the score: brain, mind and body in the healing of trauma. New York: Viking; 2014. 3. McEwen BS. Early life influences on life-long patterns of behavior and health. Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2003;9(3):149–54.
Yes, Jacqui! We stand together in solidarity to end all harms being done to minors and their parents. Criminalization of asylum seekers must end. The system that oppresses and incarcerates already traumatized people is inherently cruel.