Covid-19: Parent-child separation trauma. Sharing news information I read about parent-child separation trauma during the recent 2-stage lockdown from Shanghai as a result of the isolation of infected children from their parents to curb the spread of the virus. Western diplomats have expressed their concern about this, urging the China Foreign Ministry to stop taking such a step and thousand of people were giving comments online about the government’s actions in separating infected children from their parents.
This is so heartbreaking, especially for those who are involved and the government’s move is to protect everyone and curb the spread of the virus. Chinese authorities are still sticking with “Dynamic Clearance” – aiming to test for, trace, and centrally quarantine all the positive cases. Isolating infected children puts medical well-being before mental health. Priority is given to seeking treatment and medical care and ignoring the long-term trauma of separation.
According to The straight time Asia news dated 3, April 2022, reporting that young children in China who are tested positive for the Covid-19 test are separated from their negative parents in the quarantine center, which has gone viral on social media on Weibo and Douyin.
Separate children of Covid-19 from their parents, a situation in Shanghai – the most populous, the richest city in China, is one of the government strategies to curb Covid-19 widespread in Shanghai’s recent 2-stage lockdown.
Recently, if you notice, there are photos and videos posted on Weibo and Douyin Social media showing the wailing children of Covid-19 were placed in the quarantine center without their parents and were kept 3 in a cot. In some cases, babies as young as 3 months old were separated from their nursing mothers, also there are a group of 20 toddlers aged 5-6 years old, who were quarantined without their parents, etc. Parents are shocked to see more photos have gone viral on social media about the crying children in Shanghai Health Facility.
Parents are not allowed to take care of their children with positive covid-19 and were forced to separate from their young children. However, China authorities explained that they will remain online communication with the parents about their children’s condition in the quarantine center.
And, early this year, in Hong Kong, you get to see news about parents being forced to leave their young children alone in the hospital due to the babies were tested positive for covid-19. A Hong Kong mother was left crying and hysterical after authorities separate her 11 months old baby who was tested positive for covid-19 in the hospital. I think there are many cases like this happening now and before.
Updates: Another news released on 6th April 2022, the China authorities have eased the child separation policy two days after they were bombarded about their practice to separate infected child with their parents, which indeed has triggered widespread anger across the country. Good news is, the authorities have relaxed the policy slightly to allow parents to apply to escort their sick children with SOPs and a signed letter that they are aware of the risks.
Parent-child Separation trauma
The mental health of adults
We have seen articles, posts, and videos that went viral on social media about their heartbreaking experience of separating from their beloved family. Travel lockdown, and closing the country borders have restricted family members who work from different countries are unable to coming back and gathering together. Social distancing and self-quarantine have forbidden us from getting along and socializing with our friends and relatives.
Those who are positive covid-19 will be quarantined alone. The self-quarantine period, often it is related to mental health issues, especially among certain groups in particular, such as older adults, health care providers, and people with underlying health conditions. A large number of people experience fear, worry, sadness, stress, and anxiety as they are separated from their family and friends.
Older adults and those people with underlying conditions have to die alone in the hospital. Family members are not able to come closer to give the deceased the last respect, feeling sad and distressed.
Parents who are unable to accompany their sick children to the hospital or quarantine center put them in fear. All these incidences have created psychological distress and other mental health illnesses.
Impact on young children’s development
What is the impact on our children of being separated from their parents? In one study about “Social isolation and its impact on child and adolescent development: a systematic review”, up to 30% of children or adolescents who have undergone isolated quarantines (without their parents) are found to have signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Separation can cause distress for a young child as he/she cannot understand why the parents are not around with her/him. They feel worried, sad, and lonely as if they were being punished. If it is not handled properly, it can become a traumatic childhood experience and will lead to an increased risk of developing mental health problems later in life.
Separation of mother and child as long as one week in duration can negatively impact the quality of the relationship between mother and child. For the first two years, children need to rely on the physical presence of their mother to develop secure attachment. Attachment, in young children, is a way of emotional bonding and interaction between the child and the caregiver. This healthy relationship allows the children to learn and grow in a happy environment, become productive adults who make healthy relationship choices, solve conflict in healthy ways, and have good self-confidence and balance in life.
The nurturing and caregiving we receive in early childhood helps form our most basic and reliable beliefs about the world. Within a healthy attachment, a child may gain coping skills, negotiation skills, and communication skills that are all vital for success in adulthood. People who have had traumatic parent-child separation or broken early attachments often experience higher incidences of mental illness and greater relationship conflicts in adulthood.
Experts are against the act of separating the infected children from their parents. What do you think? Let us know your thought in the comment box below.