Santa Maria teacher protests family separation at the border

CALM: Child stress likely to cause health issues

Santa Maria teacher protests family separation at the border

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Former First Lady Laura Bush came forward calling the separation of families "cruel" and "immoral." This growing backlash surrounding what's happening at the United States' borders prompted a Santa Maria school teacher to take action.

Child advocacy groups say family separation is a form of childhood trauma and 256 miles wouldn't stop one local woman's fight to put an end to it.

“It’s just horrible that our government is doing this to people," said Elizabeth Osborne, a Central Coast resident protesting just outside of San Diego Monday.

Osborne spent most of the day Friday calling almost every Republican Senator.

“I was shocked that no one spoke out against it and I thought to myself well I can either sit on the couch and make a bunch more phone calls on Monday or I could drive down here and protest in person,' said Osborne. 

So with that, Osborne left her Solvang home at 3:45 a.m. Monday morning and drove to El Cajon, protesting outside a detention facility housing over 60 migrant boys, the same shelter Nancy Pelosi and about a dozen other lawmakers just visited.

“I have a very strong feeling about what is happening here.  I’m very disappointed in what’s going on with our nation and separating children from their parents is not anything that anybody should do, least of all the United States of America," said Osborne. 

The Pioneer Valley High School Teacher says many of her students have immigrant backgrounds and watching families be torn apart is reminiscent of historical events she’s taught in the classroom.

Kids being taken away from their parents and separated during World War II and it’s also similar the internment camps and I just don’t think we should repeat that," said Osborne. 

Experts in preventing childhood trauma say the over 2,3000 children stripped from their parents arms are likely experiencing high levels of chronic repeated stress.

“Their coping mechanism, especially a really young child, is their parent.  So they learn about the world and they are able to de-stress by that relationship with their caregiver so when they're separated from their caregiver, all of a sudden they don't have that coping mechanism," said Sandra Fuhring, CALM North County Development Director. 

Fuhring says it’s likely these kids are experiencing nightmares and long-term, lasting effects on their physical and mental health.  “Children who are exposed to chronic stress are more likely to experience things like depression anxiety.  They’re more likely to develop long-term health problems like lung disease heart disease.  They’re more likely to be suicidal," she said. 

Experts say the separation impacts younger children, under the age of five, the most because their brains are still developing.  Short-term, the stress can impact the brains' ability to learn.

"Children who have been exposed to six or more traumas have a 20-year shorter lifespan than children who haven't been exposed to that many stressors," said Fuhring. 

Osborne was planning on driving back home to Solvang once it got dark along the border.

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