As we begin the holidays and season of celebrations, we will revisit the traditional appeals for hope, peace, love, and forgiveness. These virtues are centuries old and at their very core, are all rooted in connection.
Human connection is essential, it is hard-wired and fosters all human development. From the moment we are born, we yearn to connect. We cry out for it from caregivers; otherwise, we cannot experience tranquility, comfort or attachment, and trust. Emotional, social, physical, and spiritual connection produces what is sacrificial and is the most explicit form of love. We need to be seen. We need to be touched. This is common humanity.
Researchers have long recognized the impact of the deprivation of touch on children raised in impoverished institutions throughout the world. The costs are widespread and continue today. We have documented a litany of tragic and chronic problems for children and youth who are disconnected and neglected: lack of impulse control, social withdrawal, behavioral dysregulation, inability to tolerate frustration, anger and aggressiveness, low self-esteem, low academic achievement, and self-harm, for examples. At The National Center for Children and Families (NCCF), we daily witness individuals and organizations like you who step forward to prevent this acute suffering by others and who promote healing and recovery from betrayal and maltreatment, through the formidable power of human connection.
This year NCCF touched the lives of more than 51,000 people and told as many stories as we could about how the community’s humane response, your sense of responsibility to others who are hurting, mattered. Because of common humanity, a foster youth bouncing around from home to home, found her “forever” mother, a best friend, and started college; a single parent now raises his four children in an affordable and safe home, after the mother walked away; a youth reconnected with his father after many years, and has started his journey as a culinary professional; the mother of an extremely ill baby escaped a violent, abusive relationship, finding protection in this country; and a gifted child left to her elderly grandmother to raise, graduated from elementary school as an artist and scholar, and plans to become a teacher.