These are challenging times for many parents. And equally important, for their children.
Children just naturally have questions. Why is the sky blue? Why are kittens soft?
How did my baby brother get here?
But along with those age-old queries has come a whole new crop of questions. Sometimes difficult questions.
As an example, the immigrant situation.
With 24/7 news cycles about children in cages at the borders, your child may ask you some difficult questions. The best policy is to answer truthfully and honestly, since honesty is a strong foundation on which to build the all-important core trust a child needs for positive development.
Here are some questions that may come up, along with answers that may provide some comfort to your child. As well as yourself.
Why are there migrants? Why are there people leaving where they live to come to the United States?
Not all countries around the world are filled with kind and wonderful people like where we live. In some countries there are wars. There may be hunger due to very unusual weather. There may be few jobs for the parents. There may be human rights offenses. So the parents of children in those regions of the world want to find a place to raise their kids that will allow them to feel safe like you do. Since there are many countries that have these problems, there are lots and lots of people who ask safer countries for asylum. Asylum means sanctuary, a safe and protected place in which they can raise their children without the fear they feel back in their own country.
Why are these families being stopped and arrested when they get to our country?
There are some people in our government who don’t want to provide asylum to these families from other countries. They are afraid of poor people, due to their attitudes toward other people who were not born in the United States. They think the only way for them to feel safe themselves is to keep other people out. They also want to send a message to future asylum seekers that says “If you try to come into our country, there will be problems that are as bad as the wars, hunger or other problems that have caused you to flee your own country.” These people think that if the asylum seekers experience human rights offenses here in the United States, the rest of them will not try to come to here.
What are Human Rights?
Way back in 1989, an organization called the United Nations defined their second Covenant for Human Rights. The second Covenant deals with rights like freedom of movement; equality before the law; the right to a fair trial and presumption of innocence; freedom of thought, conscience and religion; freedom of opinion and expression; peaceful assembly; freedom of association; participation in public affairs and elections; and protection of minority rights. It prohibits arbitrary deprivation of life; torture, cruel or degrading treatment or punishment; slavery and forced labor; arbitrary arrest or detention; arbitrary interference with privacy; war propaganda; discrimination; and advocacy of racial or religious hatred. All big words that basically say all humans should all be treated the same way we would want to be treated.
Why are so many people upset about the kids in the cages?
Because many, many people think it is horrible how the children are treated by the border patrol and our current government. When parents imagine their own children being locked up without any grown-ups to care for them or talk to them or hold them, they get very upset and scared. They are very upset that our country, which has always stood for democratic values and liberty and justice for all, is now seen by other people around the world as being really mean and nasty. Some people are worried that there will be international trials for the human rights offenses that are happening right here in our country. In a way they feel responsible for the reputation of the United States of America. They are shocked that this is even happening.
Are the children being hurt?
Hopefully, not too much. But yes, they are being hurt in many different ways. They are scared and traumatized, which doctors say might give them trouble as they grow up and have children of their own. Also, they aren’t getting proper nutrition and so some may grow up to be unhealthy.
Could this happen to me?
Not really, because we like where we live and we don’t have to move like those other families trying to escape where they live. Our family is safe. But we need to try and make our country better and make it safe for others, as well. We will do that by putting good people in our government who care about the human rights of parents and children fleeing wars and crime and hunger. We want them to feel as safe as you do right now.
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