a deep concern for separating families
With a mission focused on the relentless pursuit of optimal health for every child within our reach, it goes without saying that all of us at Dayton Children’s Hospital are deeply concerned about what is happening to children at our borders as their families seek asylum.
While we can agree that the broader debate over immigration policy is complex, we should also agree that taking children away from their parents is contrary to every value that we hold dear as American citizens.
In a recent two-week period, 658 children were forcibly separated from their parents at the border. In her visit to a shelter for unaccompanied children run by the Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics shared the story of a toddler she met at a shelter. The child was crying uncontrollably after being taken from her mother at the border. While we may be meeting the basic needs for food, shelter and medical care, this child separation practice is causing trauma to these children which leaves lifelong scars.
At Dayton Children’s, our experts are well aware of the increasing body of brain research that has shown the serious impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on a child’s lifelong wellbeing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ACEs are linked to a wide range of health and social consequences for children including risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions, low life potential and early death. All of these children have already been exposed to difficult and harmful conditions prior to reaching the border. We must not add to their victimization.
Thoughtful and well-meaning people can continue to debate our country’s immigration policy, but children should never be made to pay the price for the decisions of adults.
For those of us who care about and for kids every day, we can never support these practices that tear families apart - even temporarily. To us this isn’t about Republicans or Democrats – it’s about who will stand up for children. We call on our leaders on both sides of the aisle to speak up on behalf of children and their families to find a better way.
Deborah A. Feldman
President and CEO, Dayton Children’s Hospital