Separating Children from Parents Is Not Good For Their Brain, According to Science

Separating Children from Parents Not Good For Their Brand, According to Science

Border wall between Texas and Mexico. Westlee Jay Appleton/Shutterstock


Since early May 2018, the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy has led to the detention of over 2,000 kids, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).


The policy, aiming to prosecute illegal border-crossing offenses, applies to every adult whether or not they come with kids. Adults that do come with kids are being separated, with their kids placed in temporary care facilities while parents await prosecution from the Justice Department.


“Taking children away from their mothers is harmful to them,” Jack Shonkoff, director of the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University, said to PBS. “There’s nothing complicated about that, and there’s incredibly strong science and a big hunk of common sense that both lead us to the same conclusions.”


Adverse Childhood Experiences are defined as stressful or traumatic events in a kid's life that can cause long-term issues. When children are physically separated from their parents, they might start to experience toxic stress.


The human body responds to stress by increasing its heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormones like cortisol. When these symptoms happen in a healthy environment, the result can be tolerable (severe but temporary responses) or even positive (brief increases in heart rate with mild elevations of hormone levels). Nevertheless, when a child doesn't find the support they need, prolonged stress can lead to physical symptoms with lifelong ramifications similar to those experienced with physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, and exposure to violence. These act to disrupt healthy brain development, increasing the risk of stress-related diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes, depression, and substance abuse) and cognitive impairment continuing into adulthood.




Once detained, kids at the border are placed in a Border Patrol facility. This process lasts for three days before they're transferred to longer-term shelters or placed with families or sponsors.


Experts have urged the administration to end its policy, such as written documents from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, as well as the American Psychiatric Association. More than 9,000 mental health experts and groups have all signed a petition expressing concern over the policy.


“To pretend that separated children do not grow up with the shrapnel of this traumatic experience embedded in their minds is to disregard everything we know about child development, the brain, and trauma,” the petition reads.


Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed their concern, but the two parties are still divided as to what a potential legislative solution would be like. President Trump addressed the "illegal immigration crisis" on June 26, 2018, saying that "it has been going on for many, many decades."


Reference: IFLScience

Separating Children from Parents Is Not Good For Their Brain, According to Science Separating Children from Parents Is Not Good For Their Brain, According to Science Reviewed by Κατερίνα Παπ on 2:00 PM Rating: 5

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