Abandonment can be a traumatizing experience for a child. Whether it is done by a parent, family member or friend it leaves an emotional void that may never be filled. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of abandonment issues in children so that they can be helped early on.
There are many reasons that a parent might walk away from their kids, some out of selfless motives, others because they feel they can’t afford to care for them anymore, and other times simply due to drug or alcohol problems or a relationship that has gone bad. Some parents in poorer socio-economic conditions like India, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Mexico or England are unable to provide their children with the basic necessities of life such as food, shelter and education. This is sometimes referred to as “economic abandonment” but is still considered child neglect.
The world is full of examples of abandoned children. Quietly a small child is carried down a dirt road in a remote village under the pretext of going to the marketplace or a neighbor’s home, only to be left on a street corner and told to wait for momma to come back with some water, but she never returns. Often these children are left to wander the streets or even be carried deep into the woods where they will die from hunger and cold.
In some cases the children are taken to the hospital where they are kept for months or years. In the past case workers from Washington’s Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) would take custody of these children and work with them to find a place to live. However, after a court ruling in 2021 DCYF changed its interpretation of the law and now only works with these kids if there is a suspected crime of abuse or neglect associated with their case.
This change in policy has left the hospitals with a lot of children to care for, without permanent families. Some of these kids are now being sent to hotels while they await foster placements, a practice that Kautz believes is not the best for children.
She argues that placing children in hotels for an extended period of time can cause them psychological trauma that is hard to undo. Instead, she says that the state should focus on preventing abandonment in the first place by working with families to ensure they have adequate support systems in place.
For children who have experienced abandonment, it’s important to seek out therapy so they can learn coping skills that will help them through this difficult stage of their lives. Online counseling is a great way for children to get the help they need in a safe, comfortable environment. Companies like BetterHelp make it possible for anyone to access professional therapy from the comfort of their own homes via computer, tablet or mobile device. This makes it easy for kids to reach out when they need to.