Dr. Colleen Kraft, the current president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, has said that the Trump Administration’s zero tolerance family separation policy is a form of child abuse.
In an interview with CNN, Kraft noted that this policy is emotionally harmful to children in a myriad of ways and described what she saw when visiting one of child immigration detention centers. Regarding a room full of young children, Kraft said:
Normally toddlers are rambunctious and running around. We had one child just screaming and crying, and the others were really silent. And this is not normal activity or brain development with these children.
Kraft attributed this in part to what she calls “toxic stress,” which inhibits development in children, continuing by saying, “It disrupts their brain architecture and keeps them from developing language and social, emotional bonds, and gross motor skills, and the development that they could possibly have.”
While Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defends these policies, saying the children are well taken care of, Kraft disagreed, calling the detention centers and policies “government sanctioned child abuse”.
While these detention centers have existed and family separation has occurred in prior administrations, the zero tolerance policy is unique to the Trump Administration. President Donald Trump has come to the defense of this policy, saying “The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility — it won’t be.”