Children: The unseen victims
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 16.3
states, "The family is the natural and fundamental group
unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and
Yet those who perhaps suffer most from Drug War policies
are the children. They are the unseen victims -- left behind
to endure the traumatic separation from their parents when
long prison sentences are imposed.
In a literal sense, they are being punished, too. When
their parents are taken away, the children are sentenced to
five, ten, twenty years without their parents love,
nurturing, or support. The loss of a mother or father is
extremely difficult for any child, under any circumstances.
Psychologists have compared the loss of one's parents to the
prison system to experiencing a death in the nuclear family.
Parents and children grieve each other's absence, and miss
them in their lives.
Many children are displaced from their schools and
communities when their families are split apart. Brothers
and sisters are often separated from each other and moved
into different homes, as the burden of caring for more than
one child is shared by the extended family or support
network. So, in addition to losing their parents and homes,
these siblings also often lose each other.
It is difficult for children to cope with all these
significant losses in their lives, which may result in
behavioral problems, failure in school, and overall
dysfunction. They feel angry, lonely, abandoned, and
alienated. Some feel ashamed and different from other kids.
This can lead to very serious problems. A nationwide survey
of troubled children in the juvenile justice system shows
that prisoners' children are five times more likely to end
up in prison than are other children. They may also harbor
hostility or fear towards authority, whom they perceive as
being responsible for their situation.
As Calvin Treiber writes, "My mom says my little girl is
scared to death when she sees a cop riding down the street
in their car cause she knows the cops took her mamma and