Health Risks of Trump’s “Zero-Tolerance” Policy Inhibits Child Development

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A recent report concluded that separating a child from their parents by force can cause devastating and severe long-term consequences.

In a recent KOAT article, Dr. Shawn Sidhu, training director for the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UNM, said “diabetes, cancer, heart and lung disease are just some of the long term effects” the more than 2,300 children being detained are at risk of developing.

However, what most people are not considering is the already traumatic events most of these children have already faced, before even coming to this country.

Think about it, these young children, some infants or toddlers, have experienced the harsh conditions that made them seek asylum in the first place, like extreme poverty, hunger, and violence.  

Then there is the reality of having to leave their home  to survive and seek a better standard of living, while traveling thousands of miles to our southern borders.

Imagine being six years old, going to school, playing with the neighborhood children, developing trusting relationships with teachers, family members, friends and neighbors. Then, all of a sudden you have to say goodbye and leave everything you’ve ever know behind, without a say, because your a child.

The reality is that these children are arriving at our border with a lot on their mind already. Separating them from their families is only adding to the mental and physical instability these children are experiencing.

In an interview with the online publication Now This, Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, spoke about the effects high levels of stress can have on brain architecture and child health.

“These children don’t develop speech normally. They don’t develop social and emotional bonds. They don’t develop their gross motor skills. Their whole development is inhibited”, Kraft said.

In the KOAT article, Dr. Sidhu states that there is evidence that shows treatment can help the children cope with trauma. Let’s be real, the best and only treatment these children should be receiving is their release and reunion with their parents but not incarcerated.

According to legal filings published in a Huffington Post article, staff working on the behalf of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the people in charge of caring for the more than 2,300 children, are routinely drugging detained child migrants with psychotropics without their parents’ consent.

Apparently forcing these children to take countless number of pills in order to control the stress, anxiety, and depression that their oppressors are causing is a better treatment than reuniting them with their parents.

What is even worse is that these children are being medicated without consent.

Enough is enough. The government must stop illegally medicating these children without the consent of their parents, and realize that these children have been through a lot in their short lives and that all they need right now is the loving embrace of those who love them the most, their parents and to be freed from incarceration as the U.N. mandates for asylum seekers.