The Trump administration's family separation policy, which separated asylum-seeking parents from their children at the US border, may have just been stopped with the President's executive order, but it doesn't erase the psychological impact and biological damage that these migrants have already endured. If the new approach fails to pass legal scrutiny, a real possibility, such separations could resume.
These children did not get to the border on their own. They are entirely innocent by any standard. But the trauma of forced separation from one's loving family and its lifelong consequences are hard to overstate. The biological impacts are scientifically irrefutable. Toxic stress and trauma quite literally "get under the skin." They alter brain circuitry and functioning, as well as the way that genes work, through a process known as "epigenetic methylation" that can turn genes on and off. Researchers have only begun to document the many ways that these changes to gene function can wreak havoc on the developing child, including even fetuses. But what we already know is striking.
We now know that both brains and genes "listen" to their social environment, and the message of this policy's enactment is clear. The world is dangerous and won't support you. The core impacts of trauma and toxic stress include the disruption of their stress system, leading to lifelong behavioral problems, cognitive difficulties, chronic inflammation, impaired health, and even early death. Their attachment system will also be damaged, leading to persistent difficulties in making and sustaining successful relationships.
Read the full article at CNN.