How toxic stress can impact children separated from parents

Children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border may be at risk of toxic stress, which could cause an array of health problems later in life, according to Jack Shonkoff, Julius B. Richmond FAMRI Professor of Child Health and Development at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Center on the Developing Child.

Shonkoff appeared on PRI’s The World on June 27, 2018 to discuss the science of toxic stress and the moral crisis of separating families at the border. “This level of stress activation has a wear-and-tear effect on the body. It increases the risk of a whole range of diseases later on, accelerates the aging process, and makes it more likely that you won’t live as long,” he said.

Shonkoff added, “Science has a lot to say about what biologically is going on. But fundamentally this is a moral issue, this is an issue of humanity. This isn’t a scientific puzzle.”

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Separation at the border (Harvard Chan School News)

Statement by Center Director Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D. on Separation of Families (Center on the Developing Child)