Hi, my name is Kent Toussaint, licensed marriage and family therapist, founder and clinical
director of Teen Therapy Center in Woodland Hills, California, coming to you live on Facebook
to answer your parenting questions, but this week we're doing something a little differently.
I was asked to speak at the Lights for Liberty vigil at the Sherman Oaks Galleria this Friday.
It is a vigil across the country, many different locations, many cities, having big gatherings
to talk about and discuss the crisis at the border with child and family separations and what's
happening there. And I will be speaking about the potential trauma and dangers that children
can face emotionally from the child separation. My job here is not to talk to you about politics.
You can believe whatever you want to believe. Republican, Democrat, Independent. I think
you should believe what you want to believe and speak to your truth. I'm not here to try to change
your mind on political parties or who to vote for. That
is not what I'm here to do. I am only here to talk about the effects and the lasting effects that
the policy that is in place now of the child separation can have on a child for that whole child's
life and for generations to come. So with that in mind and understanding that immigration policy
I don't think is an easy topic to figure out. I think, you know, honorable people can have honest
disagreements on documented and undocumented immigration. I think that conversation they're
having for a long time and there can be disagreements and there are. But again, let's focus on
how the current policy is affecting children. So go with me for a moment. I'm going to kind of
lay out a story here. I want you come with me. Imagine you and your family are living in a city or
country that is war -torn, that is ravaged by gang violence, government persecution, and you
probably witnessed this, maybe have been a victim of it, and you've decided the best choice
for you is to get out. Find a better life somewhere
else because staying here is untenable. So you make this trek across a country or countries,
Leave everything behind. Risk it all to try to get to a better place. You get to the border and
because you cannot totally prove that you were the parent of these children, you are separated.
Now you're put in a holding cell or holding pen, holding facility that is overcrowded where
you may or may not have a bed or a sheet. You may not even have the ability to lay down to sleep. You
may have to sit up and you also have no access to hygiene and you're separate, you have no idea
how long you're going to be there. You have no idea what's going on with your kids. That's a pretty
traumatic thing for anyone to go through. Now imagine you're 14 years old, or better yet, four
years old. You're four years old, you've been separated from everyone you know. You have no
concept of time. So whether it's three days or three months, it's traumatic. You have no idea
what's happening. You have no idea where your
parents are. And what we know in psychology is so much goes on in brain development between parents
and children that connection, that closeness. I talk all the time with parents and kids of really
strengthening that connection. And this is, these are kids who have not been separated from
their families. These are kids who maybe have gone through divorce, maybe they've gone through,
maybe a parent has left the family for whatever reason, maybe it's family that's intact but
they're just, they're so, um, there's so much disconnection because of, you know, parents
need to work, they're a busy family, too many screens, and that causes damage. Now imagine it's
at a place where your detention center, where you have substandard food, even for a third world
country, and substandard water, no hygiene, you're all alone, you're afraid. That causes
immediate and lasting damage to any child, and I'll talk about what that is. So when babies and
children are young, there's a lot of connection between
parents and children. Eye contact, loving physical contact, that helps develop healthy brain
waves so kids start understanding what is safe and what is not safe. When there is severe trauma
like separation that restructures the brain. So as that child grows to be an adult or even a teenager
their ability to recognize what is safe what is not safe is impaired. That is lasting. That is
hardwired. That takes a lot of work to repair and that is not an easy thing to do. So what's happening
is, we are creating a situation where these children will grow up with lasting psychological
damage, whereas they grow up, and maybe even as adults, they are more prone to lower IQ and ability
to have cognitive thinking skills, more risk of anxiety and depression, more risk of drug and
alcohol abuse, more risk of violence, more risk of sexually acting out and these keep re -traumatizing.
Every time they, a child or an adult, uses these maladaptive coping skills to try to repair or
figure out how they're doing,
they re -traumatize themselves and they'll put themselves in re -traumatizing situations.
They will push away from people who they love and people who are safe because they don't know
how to trust it. And so they'll separate and they'll feel even more alone. And so what we're happening
is we're creating children who grow up to be unhealthy adults who, if they have children, will
pass that on to their children. So, generationally, we are creating generations of children
and adults who are going to be damaged, who are going to have, you know, the shrapnel of this situation
in their minds for generations to come. And this is something that I think we need to shine a light
on more and be aware that we are creating situations that are going to come back to haunt us because
if these people stay in our country, you know, their parents are going to not be able to get them
the therapeutic treatment they need, because the parents are probably working two to four
jobs just to make ends meet, and they're
not spending enough time with their kid, because they're doing everything they can to just
put food on the table and pay the rent. If they go back to the countries they came from, well, how
much therapy is there? How much access, long -term, stable therapy, are these children going
to have access to? My guess is very, very little. So, I think it's important that we as a country
take care of the most vulnerable, whether they're citizens or not. We have to find a better way
to deal with this this crisis of immigration. For example, here's a quote I want to read to you.
Many of you will recognize this. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning
to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, The homeless Tempest
-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door those of you who don't know what this is This
is the quote at the base of the Statue of Liberty We were built on bringing people who are vulnerable
and giving them a place to rise up I'm not
saying we have to let everyone in the country. I don't know how to handle that situation I'm not
saying I do but should we treat them as Farm animals are better or packing or just animals that
that have no value You know, these people are people. Whether they deserve to be in this country
or not, again, is a different debate. And I don't want to debate that here. That's not what we're
here for. Our debate here is to figure out how do we help these people who are here now? There must
be a more practical, humane way to deal with this. You know, we are America. We are the land of
the free and home of the brave. How much of free are we really, really, are we sharing with the
people trying to get in this country? And how brave is this policy that we are damaging and hurting,
on purpose, these children who, to no fault of their own, have been brought here. Now, you may
say, well, their parents sure brought them here, and I understand that argument, but they're
here. So, we have to find a better
way to deal with them. Again, we can talk about this for hours and hours, and we will have a big
conversation about this on Friday at 7 o 'clock at the Shemrocks Galleria. Please come. Please
bring donations, whether it's, you know, Toiletries, unopened toiletries, socks, clothes,
easily open canned goods. Please bring your donations. I think this is a really important humanitarian
cause that I think we can all get behind regardless of political party, regardless of conservative,
liberal, moderate, whatever how you see yourself. I think we want to help people and so I hope
you can too. So please join me this Friday at 7 p .m. at the Shermock's Galleria. If you have more
questions, please give me a call or just email us here. Next week, we'll be back to our regular
parenting questions where I answer your parenting questions. If you have a question, please
email us at tipsonteens at teentherapycenter .com or just direct message us right here on Facebook.
Thanks again, and I'll see you on
Friday. Bye -bye.
For #TipsOnTeens this week, we’re switching it up a little bit.
Kent Toussaint was recently asked to speak at the @Lights4Liberty Event on Friday, July 12th at 7:00pm at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. In light of this invitation, we’d like to use this week’s Tips On Teens to touch on the things that are happening in the border detention centers.
Typically, we like to stay somewhat neutral when it comes to politics because we respect that everyone has different lives and different beliefs. However, we wanted to solely focus on the harmful effects these detention centers are having on the children of immigrant families. Regardless of political beliefs, this is something we believe needs to be talked about. Lights for Liberty To contact us by phone or email, please visit http://www.TeenTherapyCenter.com/Contact-Us
Tips On Teens is a vlog that our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, hosts every Wednesday at 12:00pm on Facebook Live. He will be answering parenting questions submitted to us by you to our email at TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. Send us any questions you might have about parenting kids and teens and Kent will be answering them every week!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.