We at the Center for Hunger-Free Communities are appalled at the separation of children from their parents at the border. No family should have to endure the unbearable stress of a separation when they are seeking refuge and safety. These purposeful separations are causing extreme harm to children who have already experienced horrible trauma in their own countries.
By now most of us have heard the recording of a child crying while being ripped away from their parents. This moment of trauma will stay with that child for the rest of their life, not only for the devastation of separation but the deprivation of a loving caregiver to help the child cope with the situation. As researchers, we describe this event as an “adverse childhood experience,” which will affect this child’s development and potential throughout their life course. As people – someone’s mother, sibling, child – we are horrified at the cruel and unnecessary nature of this happening in our country.
Family separation, especially at a time of heightened trauma, causes devastating harm. Prolonged exposure to trauma, or toxic stress, can impact the health, well-being and economic security of a child across the lifespan, and as demonstrated through our research and that of many others, its impact will be carried in to the next generation.
All families and children coming to the United States deserve our love, compassion and protection.
We must put an end to separating families. This societal trauma and this assault on basic human dignity must be stopped and work must be done to help repair the massive damage done to the children and their families. We are calling on our country, on our leaders, to do better and to be better so that we can be the America that shows its greatness through love, not hate.