A sudden separation and other adverse experiences encompassing the separation may create posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to the National Center for PTSD, “posttraumatic stress disorder is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event”. It is classified as an anxiety disorder and may appear immediately after experiencing or witnessing the traumatic event or It may not manifest until months or years later. There are four types of PTSD symptoms such as, reliving the event, avoiding situations that remind you of the event, having more negative beliefs and feelings, and hyperarousal (https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/ptsd-overview/basics/what-is-ptsd.asp). Separation from family can be a traumatic experience for children and may be the underlying cause of the development of PTSD. As discussed earlier, children form attachments with caregivers at a young age and sudden break of these attachments can cause traumatic experience in the life of a child. Some citizen-children may fear their parents being deported by U.S Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enfocement (ICE) officials. “Citizen-children’s fears of their parents’ deportation are not unfounded. In the past decade, nearly 2 million persons have been removed from the U.S., 81 percent of them to Latina America’ (CITE). There are many variables that must be considered as to see if a person will be affected or developed PTSD such as developmental level, ethnicity/cultural factors, previous trauma exposure, available resources, and preexisting child and family problems. Research has shown that if a child is separated from his or her parent before the age of ten, he or she is considered to be a high-risk candidate for developing PTSD (Davidson, 1993 cited in Davis & Siegel, 2000). Many of the behaviors that are demonstrated by children that have been exposed to traumatic experience, resemble behaviors that clinical social workers may see on a regular. Some of these behaviors consists of, development of new fears, separation anxiety (particularly in young children), sadness, anger, somatic complaints, and decline in school work (CITE APA). Although PTSD is a mental health issue that demands specific attention and treatment, it is important to note that closely associated with the development of PTSD is depression.
Significance of Social Work-Ethical principals
It is important to understand this problem because these children are negatively impacted and unjustly end up in foster care and adoption placements. Social work profession’s primary value is to fight for social justice. That is what needs to be done for children and families who suffer in silence as all attempts to stand up for their rights are stopped by rigid policies. Just because individuals affected by this issue have undocumented parents, does not make them any less American or any less worthy of having a normal family life and the dignity of being able to grow up with their parents by their side. It is an issue that affects many people and not giving it the attention and voice it deserves is a violation of the social work values.