Kids can suffer permanent damage from border separations
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The Trump administration’s new policy of forcibly separating children from their parents will cause irreparable damage to many of the children and is a “great injustice,” doctors said Friday.
Medical groups are unanimous in denouncing the policy, which they note is not defined in any U.S. law. Besides being traumatic and unnecessary, the stress can damage brain development, they said.
“Any forced separation is highly stressful for children and can cause lifelong trauma, as well as an increased risk of other mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder,” said the American Psychiatric Association’s Dr. Altha Stewart.
“Many families crossing the United States border are fleeing war and violence in their home countries and are already coping with the effects of stress and trauma. These children deserve our protection and should remain with their families as they seek asylum.”
The Department of Homeland Security said Friday that 1,995 children were taken from their parents between April 19 and May 31 of this year.
It’s as bad and as harmful as seizing Native American children was in the past, said Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“When you think about our history of separating our Native American kids and sending them to boarding school and Japanese internment camps, and other human rights violations, this is one that’s happening before our eyes and that’s why we need to speak out against it,” Kraft told NBC News.
Kraft saw some of the detained children in April.
“It was really devastating to see,” she said. “The first room we went into was a toddler room and there was a little girl who couldn’t have been more than 2 years old who was just sobbing and crying and was inconsolable.”
As psychologists, we have documented multiple harmful effects of parent-child separation on children’s emotional and psychological development and wellbeing and urge that the current policy of family separation be reversed.” #FamiliesBelongTogether
Read the full letter below: pic.twitter.com/7K90VkMub4
— APA Public Interest Directorate (@APAPublicInt) June 15, 2018
Staff told Kraft they were forbidden to physically comfort the children.
“And we all knew that the problem was her mother wasn’t there. And she wanted her mother. And none of us could fix that.”
It’s more than just distressing.
“We know that separation of children from loving caregivers promotes something called toxic stress in their brain,” Kraft said. “There are certain patterns of stress that result in disruptions of brain architecture in children and can result in young children in developmental delays.”
It can also cause physical symptoms, said Dr. Ana María López, president of the American College of Physicians.
“The lifetime impacts range from behavioral problems and mental health trauma to a person’s physiology,” she said.
— APHA (@PublicHealth) June 15, 2018
“It can raise the risk of chronic illness — cardiovascular disease and even cancer,” Lopez added. “From a health perspective this approach is really hurtful and damaging to families.”
Health specialists at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health signed a letter saying the policy violates international conventions.
This content was originally published here.