The Health Federation of Philadelphia vehemently opposes the policy of separating parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border.
As a public health organization committed to protecting the health and well-being of vulnerable populations, which includes preventing and mitigating the impact of trauma and childhood adversity, we are deeply concerned that this policy is having a dire effect on these children, their families, and the workers who are caring for them.
Decades of research has demonstrated that children exposed to trauma and adversity are at significant risk for long-term health consequences. We also know that separating children from their parents is an acutely traumatic experience posing immediate risks for toxic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder. In the case of infants, the significant loss of parental child bonding disrupts the essential process of attachment which is critical for normal development. We also know that parents are at significant risk for toxic stress and other trauma related health issues from these abrupt, unnecessary and unjust separations.
It is also highly likely that the workers caring for these children will suffer from secondary traumatic stress, a condition mirroring post-traumatic stress disorder, which occurs when professional caregivers are exposed to unrelenting trauma among the people they are helping.
The current policy of separating children from their parents is antithetical to all that the Health Federation of Philadelphia stands for and does. We call upon our elected officials to put an immediate end to this harmful practice and reunite detained children with their parents now.