Separating children from parents can cause serious health issues, say doctors
"Studies overwhelmingly demonstrate the irreparable harm caused by breaking up families," says one medical expert.
The Trump Administration’s "zero-tolerance" policy on illegal border crossings is separating children from parents in huge numbers — so many that the government is allegedly contemplating creating "tent cities" in order to house the kids.
The problems don’t stop there. Doctors with the American College of Physicians and the American Psychiatric Association, among others, say that separating children from parents will also cause both short- and long-term health problems for the traumatized children.
"Studies overwhelmingly demonstrate the irreparable harm caused by breaking up families," Dr. Colleen Kraft wrote in an essay for the Los Angeles Times. "Prolonged exposure to highly stressful situations — known as toxic stress — can disrupt a child's brain architecture and affect his or her short- and long-term health."
Parents and caregivers are meant to console children in times of stress, but separating children from parents takes that away, and "when robbed of that buffer, children are susceptible to learning deficits and chronic conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and even heart disease," Kraft wrote.
In May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that anyone crossing the border illegally would be immediately detained and federally prosecuted. The children don’t go with their parents during this detention. Instead, they go to government child care facilities like the overcrowded Casa de Padres in Brownsville, Texas.
Kraft went to one of the facilities and saw the results of separating children from parents: inconsolable children. One of these affected children left a mark on her.
"No parent was there to scoop her up, no known and trusted adult to rub her back and soothe her sobs," she wrote of the crying toddler. "The staff members at the center tried their best, and shared my heartbreak while watching this child writhe on the floor, alone."
Kraft — and other medical experts like her — are pleading with the government to stop separating children from parents. They have no political agenda, she told CNN.
Only a desire to help.
"The effect of this type of event will follow these children into adulthood and into their entire lives," Dr. Ana Maria Lopez, president of the American College of Physicians, said Thursday. "Our federal government is causing a situation that is creating a host of potential health consequences for an entire category of people."