There is no question that toxic stress has a devastating impact on a child’s developing brain. The Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University has provided extensive research about the impact of prolonged stress and we know that toxic stress can set a child up for heart disease, diabetes, and depression in addition to much more.
Most of us think about toxic stress as abuse and neglect. A recently published study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, regarding the impact of living in an immigrant family in the United States, is expanding it. The research included interviews with 100 families, from 15 different countries of origin, speaking 5 different languages. And what we learned is that the national dialogue on immigration is resulting in children experiencing levels of fear and stress profoundly impacting their functioning and has the potential to have significant lifelong outcomes.
It is critical for us to listen differently to those we serve across Rhode Island who are living in immigrant families, understand the impact that this level of stress can have and provide supports to buffer that stress as much as possible.
Here is a link to the study: