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LETTERS for the July 12 issue

July 12, 2018
Lahaina News

Kupuna face unfair rules

I am a tenant at Piilani Homes, a community of mostly elders (kupuna) and fixed income citizens with various health issues. We are grateful for a roof over our heads.

The project is managed by Hawaii Public Housing Authority, overseen by HUD.

Piilani tenants are yet again under siege by management supposed to serve us! In the March 18 rent bill letter was a mandate to remove ALL personal belongings from our lanais (i.e. chairs, tables, shade umbrellas, storage bins, etc.). HUH? What is a lanai for? Totally insane!

We came here to live out our years with the pursuit of happiness - not die by mandates. Had we known, no one would sign up for this bullying. What's next? Razor wire atop the perimeter fence?

Our forefathers drafted the U.S. Constitution with the intention of its citizens LIMITING government, not the other way around.

Instead, our government has become a bloated, out-of-control detriment to society (not to mention arrogance, limited accountability and WASTE to boot).

Yes, we the citizens are rightfully angry and resent Big Brother bullying and setting baseless mandates. We demand to be treated humanely and with dignity. We are harmless and have done nothing wrong.

WILLIAM SEIDL, Lahaina

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Teacher touched many lives

It was with great surprise I read that Mary Anna Grimes was retiring from Sacred Hearts School.

I first met Mary Anna when she brought her eighth-graders into Lahaina Yacht Club to learn how to sail about ten years ago. The training staff and all of the club employees always looked forward to their annual return. Her enthusiasm for expanding her kids' horizons knew no limits. You certainly get a sense of that from Louise Rockett's excellent article.

Fair winds and flat seas, Mary Anna. You touched a lot of lives, including mine.

MIKE SOWERS, Medford, Oregon

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The toxic effects of detention centers on young children

Amid all the confusion about zero tolerance and executive orders over the crisis at the border, one thing is clear. At least 2,000 children are still detained away from their parents in shelters across the country. Many - no one knows exactly how many - are under age five housed in "Tender Age" shelters in South Texas.

Government officials claim they are safe and well cared for, but nothing could be further from the truth. Years of research shows us that group care is harmful to children of all ages and especially toxic for infants and young children.

Officials defend these facilities, saying that shelters provide nutrition, hygiene and medical care. This isn't enough. Children need consistent and individualized care from loving adults. Deprived of these experiences, a young child's development is derailed. Group care facilities, with constantly changing shift care staff, cannot provide this care even under the best of circumstances.

Studies of children in institutions show the long-lasting harm caused by these conditions. One of these, the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, provided definitive proof of differences in children being raised in institutions to those removed and placed with families.

Children in facilities lagged behind children in families as measured by IQ, language, growth, social abilities and serious emotional and behavioral problems. These children also were shown to have structural and functional changes in their brains that were associated with subsequent health and mental health difficulties.

These effects of prolonged group care were still evident years after the children's exposure to early institutional rearing. The clear conclusion from this and related studies is that, for young children, individualized and committed caregiving (that can only be provided by a family) is essential for healthy brain development. The longer the child is subjected to these conditions, the greater the risk of long-term harm.

These young children at the border have had multiple traumatic experiences even before being separated from their parents. For young children, parents provide an essential protective shield to buffer them from the effects of trauma and help them maintain feelings of safety. Separating children from parents removes their most important protection while it inflicts additional trauma. Just when children need parents most, they are completely deprived of consistent caring relationships.

And, as we have seen, this is not a short-term problem. Cumulative stressors and traumas substantially increase risk for compromising their mental and physical health decades later. This is why at least 24 jurisdictions severely restrict the use of group care for children who have been removed from their parents' care because of abuse or neglect.

This situation is urgent. For policymakers, months may seem like no time at all. For young children, a week is an unimaginably long period. Because of their developmental stage, they will experience these separations as permanent and grieve as they would at the death of a parent.

While these facilities are called shelters, experience has shown that once public scrutiny ends, children spend weeks, months and even years in so-called short-term facilities.

Any delay in reunifying these babies with their parents is unacceptable. Every day, the likelihood that they will suffer long-term harm increases. The government must immediately reunify these children and permanently end the use of this kind of detention center for young children.

CHARLES H. ZEANAH & CAROLE SHAUFFER

 
 

 

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