In powerful testimony before Congress, Dr. Jack P. Shonkoff, one of the foremost authorities on child development in the country, has laid bare the destructive effects of the policy of separating immigrant children from their parents on the southern border of the United States.
Shonkoff is Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, Professor of Child Health and Development at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health and Graduate School of Education, and Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital. A pediatrician by training, his work is focused on early life influences on learning, behavior, and health. He is the lead author of the authoritative 2003 study, From Neurons to Neighborhoods, that opened the door to a flood of new research on child psychology and behavior over the past 15 years.
“Sudden, forcible separation of children from their parents is deeply traumatic for both the child and the parent,” Shonkoff declared in his testimony before the Committee on Enegy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. “Above and beyond the distress we see ‘on the outside,’ this triggers a massive biological stress response ‘inside’ the child,” he said. “Continuing separation removes the most important protection a child can possibly have to prevent long-term damage—a loving adult who’s totally devoted to his or her well-being…. All children who were abruptly separated from familiar caregivers at the border experienced overwhelming stress. Will some survive without significant problems? The answer is yes. Will many be seriously impaired for the rest of their lives? The answer again is yes.”
We urge you to click on the link, developingchild.harvard.edu/about/press/migrant-family-separation-congressional-testimony-dr-jack-p-shonkoff/ to view Shonkoff’s testimony in both the print version and the accompanying video that recorded it.