Last night, as detention centers reached capacity, filled with kids ripped from their parents, the administration announced that it will open the first ‘tent city’ to house children – tents, propped up in the middle of the Texas desert. The crackdown seems destined to get worse.
But as the administration doubles down on its cruelty, heed this caution from Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick: don’t go numb. For going numb, she argues, is “a choice, and it’s also a luxury, because the asylum-seekers at the borders cannot afford to go numb. Female victims of domestic abuse who are coming to the United States to save their own lives cannot afford to go numb. Teen girls denied access to reproductive care do not have the luxury of going numb.”
Today, to keep from going numb, read CNN’s Catherine Shoichet salient interview with President of American Academy of Pediatricians Dr. Colleen Kraft. It’s deeply disturbing. She speaks of the psychological impacts on little kids. Get outraged. Then read on to take action as recommended by the New York Times editorial that follows.
The toddler pounded her fists on the play mat, sobbing, with no parent to comfort her. Dr. Colleen Kraft watched from across the room, shaken by what she saw.
“She was just inconsolable. … We all knew why she was crying,” says Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “She was crying because she wanted her mother, and there was nothing we could do.”
Kraft had been invited by local pediatricians to visit a government shelter for immigrant children in Combes, Texas. The majority of the kids there, she says, had been separated from their parents.
The heartbreaking scene was unlike anything she’d witnessed in her decades as a pediatrician.
…Kraft says separating children from their parents is likely to trigger what’s known as a “toxic stress” response.
“Toxic stress is prolonged exposure to hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine — fight or flight hormones — and then inflammatory hormones,” she says. “In a very young child, that disrupts brain development.”
Possible results include developmental delays, such as problems with motor function or speech. And later in life, she says, kids that experience toxic stress are more likely to have health problems like heart disease, cancer and morbid obesity.
“The younger the child is,” she says, “the more likely it is to really do long-term damage and short-term damage.”
Children separated from their families at the border aren’t the only ones dealing with toxic stress, Kraft says.
Pediatricians across the United States, she says, are sharing growing concerns about their patients as the administration continues its immigration crackdown.
“It’s creating a whole generation of kids who are traumatized,” she says.
In a stirring must-read editorial by the New York Times entitled, Seizing Children From Parents at the Border Is Immoral. Here’s What We Can Do About It, the ed board calls on Americans to take action: donate to legal and humanitarian efforts (groups listed); vote; call Congress; and join protests.
This is a moment of truth. Find a way. Express your opposition to this profoundly immoral policy.