I am writing with a serious request. Concern about the now-documented conditions faced by children being detained near the U.S.-Mexico border transcends political party affiliation or rhetoric. For these infants and children, the consequences of disrupted parental bonding and of living life in confusion, uncertainty and fear are real and will be lifelong.

When we suspect or encounter any form of child neglect or abuse in our schools, neighborhoods or communities, citizens are considered to be mandatory reporters. This time has arrived.

If imagining the consequences for children you have not met is not persuasive, I offer this: Twenty-five years of teaching experience taught me that the childhood trauma experienced by any one person has a wide-ranging effect on others.

I think especially about a number of elementary students whose childhood pain was acted out physically against others. This was not an easy fix. In spite of access to expert staff, social workers, psychologists, counselors, community resources and emotionally safe spaces, trauma revisited them and affected everyone around them.

In a democracy, the actions of the government are carried out in your name and mine. Precious freedoms give us the right to influence policy. The situations we face today are vastly different from my classroom experience, because, through our government’s policies and actions, you and I have become people who cause trauma to children. This one is on you and me.

Please join me in respectfully contacting the White House and United States senators and representatives on behalf of these children and of the future we are building together.

Barbara Johnson Frank, Lincoln

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