Dear Mr. President, I am in my therapy appointment and my therapist suggested that I write you a letter. He suggested it because I am afraid. I heard that you got mad at some people who work in Washington and told them to go home. You said they were bad people and should not be living here.
I am afraid because sometimes I get into trouble for not doing my homework and sometimes I do call my parents and teachers names. Are you going to tell me to go home? I’m really afraid if you do because I don’t know where I would go. I always thought my home was our house. I know you said the other people did not deserve to live here. If I don’t live in America, where would I live?
I am also afraid because my parents get mad sometimes and say bad words. Will this make you mad and want to tell them to go home? I don’t know what I would do without my mom and dad. I always thought their home was our house too. Where would you make them go? Would I be able to visit them? Who would I live with?
Sometimes people get mad and say mean words. I do that sometimes. If I say I’m sorry and if my mom and dad say they are sorry, can you forgive them and let them and me live in our house? I love our house. Thank you.
The above letter is from an 8 year old, Caucasian, boy who is going into the third grade. His family has lived in the United States for several generations. However, I have many children in my practice with the same concerns and anxieties. They over hear the news and adults talking and because they are young they have very active imaginations, their fears can become very overwhelming. However, many of these children go to school with children who are Hispanic. Many of these children and their families are very concerned for their safety. All of the families are here legally or have been here for four generations. However, with the threatening tweets and comments made by the President many of these children and families worry about their safety.
Since Trump has become President, I have seen in my practice and it has been documented by the CDC, anxiety disorders for children have increased significantly. Many children are too afraid to leave their parents at home and are having to be put on the home hospital program where a teacher goes to their house. This is occurring in children who are Hispanic and also in children who are Caucasian. I am having children ask can the President make us leave. No child in the second grade should have to deal with this type of anxiety.
I watch the news and I hear commentators refer to all the rhetoric as politics. It is not that simple. The words that are being said or tweeted matter. Children in elementary schools are hearing this rhetoric and it is terrifying them. No child should have to worry about their parents being taken away from them.
The anxiety and trauma children are experiencing now at such a young age can impact how their brains develop and impact their behavior as adults. Many research studies have shown that children experiencing anxiety and trauma such as many children are now, develop mental health issues as adults. As teenagers they are more likely to become involved with drugs. In fact, teenagers are also showing signs that the rhetoric is taking a toll on them too. According to the CDC, suicide was the third leading cause of death for kids 10 to 18 years old. It is now the second leading cause of death. I hear many teenagers tell me with the tweets they hear from the President, they do not see much of a future for themselves. Many believe Trump will start a war at some point.
The point is that words do matter! The political rhetoric needs to stop. We should not be subjecting children and teenagers to this amount of stress. Some people will say I have no right to be speaking up and saying anything about the current administration. The truth is I am the person who needs to speak out. I am providing psychotherapy to these children and teenagers. I hear daily about their fears, what is creating these fears and I see how they are being impacted by these fears! Bottom line the political rhetoric needs to calm down. There are many in Washington D.C., who have a responsibility in stopping it. However, as the President, Mr. Trump has an ethical and moral responsibility to take the first step. He is suppose to be the leader of the United States. Therefore, Mr. Trump do your job as President and set a better example for the children of the United States.
Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist who specializes in treating children and adolescents. He has over 20 years experience working with adolescents. For more information about his work visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.