The images of despair at our southern border have been difficult to watch, and even harder to comprehend. We are encouraged by yesterday’s Executive Order stating that family unity is an imperative along with border security, but remain concerned about the safety and wellbeing of the children.
As a 168-year-old human services organization whose vision is for every child and family to thrive, we call on the US government to manage the care of children already in detention in a trauma-informed way, starting with their immediate return to their parents.
The brain science research and child development knowledge offers clear evidence that separating families by taking children away from their parents can create stress that has a lifelong impact. It can produce toxic stress, unrelenting fear, a complete loss of the sense of safety, and unimaginable pain. A trauma informed response is one that is aware of these complications and employs tactics, such as relationship-building, reason to be, and regulation to help mitigate them.
In the highly polarized debate, we implore that leaders continue to choose what is best for the children. Let’s proceed with civility and integrity and stand down from finger pointing and frantic rhetoric. Let’s choose the children. We call on our elected officials to hold our country and its leaders accountable for the safety and well-being of children and families impacted by zero-tolerance border control.
Without transparent best practice and a trauma-informed approach to managing care of the children, the recent course of action will create much more harm than good. What do we stand for? Let’s choose the children.
Whatever the best course of action for border security may ultimately be, we know for certain that separating children from parents who love and care for them wasn’t the answer. We call for the swift reunification of children and their parents and call on the government to prioritize the children in any policies moving forward.