by Sarah Snyder
The 401 children removed from the Eldorado compound are dealing not only with all of those emotional issues, but also the negative circumstances surrounding their removal.
"I think right now they are scared," said Marc McQueen, Clinical Director at Centers for Children and Families in Midland. "They don't know what tomorrow holds for them, and I think right now they are fearful."
For the past 50 years, Centers for Children and Families have counciled children, teens, and families all across the Permian Basin.
"Part of the biggest problem," McQueen said, "If you've got young girls who have already been mothering children, one of the biggest challenges a counselor will face is changing the thinking for them of what is normal, and what is acceptable."
"The counselor is going to have a big task just changing those perceptions and those beliefs much less, some of the emotional damage that has been done. With the removal, they're going to experience some grief, some abondonment, and have a big question, 'What's next for me?' 'What does life hold next for me?'
He says it may take 6 months to a year of counseling for young children, but the teens and young adults may struggle with emotional issues well into their adult years.
"Outside of any abuse that may have happened," said McQueen. "They are struggling with creating a whole new routine. No matter what kids say, they do thrive on predictability and structure. A counselor is going to have to work with them right now to help them get used to a new lifestyle and a new schedule."
Because these children have grown up in a different culture, Marc expects they will experience some culture shock.
"I think one of the things you need to remember about these kiddos is that even though there may have been some inappropriate things taking place, they've still been taken away from what they know as normal: their daily routines, their daily practices, and life is not predictable for them anymore."
Another challenge will come if the children are asked to appear in court. Marc tells us that when someone has to re-tell a traumatic experience in court, it's like re-living the event all over again. He hopes these kids will have the opportunity to tell their stories privately - in a judges chamber or on videotape.
Counselors say the sooner these children can begin the therapy process, the better.