How does the fear of the deportation of a parent affect children?


There is no doubt that this situation, which is faced by many Hispanic families in our community, tends to increase stress levels to a point where emotional and psychological imbalances can occur.  The fact that many families are being separated due to their immigration status often has devastating results.  In children, this situation can have even more serious consequences.  Several families experience “separation anxiety.”  Many of these families are well aware of the consequences of their fear: symptoms of depression, anxiety, and extremely high levels of stress.

Under normal conditions, it is very common to see a child, usually between the ages of 8 and 14 years, experience fear when separated from their parents.  They feel threatened and insecure.  However, when this fear causes a persistent and uncontrollable worry, this interferes with the normal life of the children and their parents, and the psychological consequences can be serious.

There are several signs that can demonstrate that a child is experiencing serious difficulties when he or she is separated from his/her parents.  There is extreme concern for the parent/s that the child has lost, and the child believes that something horrible will happen.  The child often refuses to go to school, to be alone, or does not want to go to bed unless he or she is accompanied by another person.  They can also experience nightmares that are related to the separation.  Sometimes, these children exhibit physical symptoms such as headaches, abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting.  In addition, they may also display excessive discomfort, which may be manifested as anxiety, crying, tantrums, sadness, apathy, and/or social withdrawal.

The fear in these children is almost frightening.  Unfortunately, their chances of developing other diseases in the future, such as attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity or panic disorder, can significantly increase.


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