The Widespread Abuse and Traumatization of Children in the United States Stops Here.
“Children do not belong in Customs and Border Protection facilities, or in any detention facilities. No amount of time spent in these facilities is safe for children. More children will continue to die if we do not make sure that every child who passes through federal custody is seen by a pediatric-trained medical professional. I personally toured two CBP facilities and did not encounter a single pediatrician at either one.”
(Dr. Sara Goza, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, reported by NBC News)
Ask any of us who work with traumatized people. Ask any of us who ourselves are traumatized by the lingering impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Where we survive, where the body withstands suicide, mental illness and substance abuse, increased instances of chronic illness, and more, our bodies still clench our wounds, protecting our hearts, our emotions, our minds, our limbs, our life, as best as possible.
You can argue about the legal requirement to enter this country in order to seek asylum. You can argue about the global community’s responsibility to such large numbers of refugees. You can argue about the parenting decisions other people make in circumstances you’re too privileged to have ever had to face. What cannot be argued is that what we are doing to children in these U.S. concentration camps is traumatizing.
We know that bipartisan U.S. foreign policy has destabilized countries whose citizens are now fleeing to our own for safety. We know that children are being separated from their parents and dumped into this system without care. We know that they are being denied medicine or, in other cases, being forcibly injected with psychotropic drugs. We know that some are dying. We know that some are being lost. We know that some are being ‘lost’ to human traffickers. We know that until very recently, the head of the U.S. Department of Labor (who oversees our country’s response to human trafficking) at best only enabled affluent adults like Epstein to perpetuate the trafficking and rape of children through an immoral immunity deal. We know that potentially even two U.S. Presidents accused of sexual misconduct from multiple women are implicated in this circle of violation and trauma. We know that the children in particular who are impacted by all these dehumanizing processes are only beginning to exhibit signs of what will be lifelong psychological damage.
We know that potentially even now, many Americans don’t even care when these are their own citizens being raped by Catholic Church officials, Baptist church leaders, Pagan tradition leaders, Boy Scout troop leaders, famous actors and musicians, feminists, football teams, and ‘good’ boys. There’s always some way to blame the victim for the actions of another person’s genitals and country. And here we are, Saturn devouring nearly 60,000 children every year.
To say we need to shut down the camps is only the beginning. To say we need to radically alter U.S. foreign policy to shut down our contributions to refugee crises is only the beginning. To see we need visionary global leaders to help the world see and un-do the intricacies of climate change, capitalism, and colonial legacies creating mass migrations in all places is only the beginning. To say that we need to release our colonial understanding of borders and possession of land to stop violently obstructing the longer history of migrations across this continent is still only the beginning. The say any and all of these things is not enough. We—our actions, our inactions, our refusals to engage in every civic avenue of redress available to us—have created a problem now that will age with us, whose traumatic excitations we deserve to be haunted by so long as we allow it to persist.
We owe our victims not just an end to the immediate pain we have inflicted upon them, but actual healing from the wounds we have opened. In discussing reparations to descendants of U.S. enslaved people, presidential candidate Marianne Williamson provides this useful analogy:
“If you have kicked someone to the ground, you owe it to them to do more than just stop kicking. You owe it to them to help them get back up. If you have taken $1,000 from me, and you apologize to me, I’ll say ‘Great, thank you. I’d also like my money back.’ No one would say, if you took $1,000 from me, an apology would be enough.”
Read More: Marianne Williamson 2020—Child Advocacy
It is not enough for us to simply stop separating families, stop dehumanizing other people, and stop shuffling their children into a system of widespread sexual assault if not outright trafficking—as important as ending each of those things is. We owe it to these people we have injured to care for the physical and psychological wounds we have inflicted.
We owe it to ourselves, to our own children, and to future generations of global citizens to acknowledge the reality of this situation, to acknowledge what our bigotry, willful ignorance, and civic passivity have permitted, and to educate one another on the processes that led us here so that we may better avoid them in the future. We owe it to every child in the world to take responsibility for our contributions to the society where they grow up.
May our actions give meaning to the apologies we are trying to convey.
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Pat Mosley (LMBT #16882) is a licensed massage therapist and life coach in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. His work is especially focused on creating permaculture in his community, which sometimes looks like providing bodywork, and other times looks like writing or designing gardens for people and bees.
Get connected with him via email to firstname.lastname@example.org