Separation and Detention of Migrant Children and Families

Separating children from their caregivers, holding them in detention centers, and subjecting them to prolonged institutionalization and neglect is a critical issue that transcends political ideology and partisanship and speaks to the heart of what the mission of the Center on the Developing Child is all about. Here, the Center has collected resources addressing this issue for members of the press, policymakers, and anyone who wants to understand what the science of child development tells us about the harm that occurs as a result of separation in institutional care.

Testimony & Statements by Center Director Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D.

Watch the recording of Dr. Shonkoff’s oral testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Toxic Stress: Issue Brief on Family Separation and Child Detention (October 2019)
Published by the Immigration Initiative at Harvard as part of its Issue Brief Series

U.S. Congressional Testimony (February 7, 2019)
Delivered at the Hearing on Migrant Family Separation Policy, House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Statement on Separation of Families (June 20, 2018)
Released by Dr. Shonkoff and the Center on the Developing Child in response to the U.S. separating families at the southern border

Contact our Media Relations team

Related Center Resources

Toxic Stress

Child Maltreatment and Neglect

Media Coverage Featuring Center Experts

he Chronicle of Higher Education: The Witnesses: Inside the detention centers that shocked America… (10/16/19)

MSNBC: Congressmembers to hear about lasting impact of child separation (09/08/2019)

PBS NewsHour: How detention causes long-term harm to children (08/22/2019)

Early Learning Nation: The Consequences of Forced Separation: When Traumatized Children Return to Traumatized Parents (08/12/2019)

Quartz: The treatment of children at the US border is more than a political crisis (07/23/2019)

The New Yorker: How the Stress of Separation and Detention Changes the Lives of Children (07/13/2019)

The Oregonian: Opinion: Bearing witness to the trauma in child detention centers (06/26/2019)

The Atlantic: Children Cannot Parent Other Children (06/24/2019)

Quartz: The damage the US government is doing to 12,000 kids (01/07/2019)

PBS NewsHour: More migrant kids held in mass shelters, AP investigation finds (12/19/2018)

TribTalk (Texas Tribune): Separated families and the urgency of the ticking clock (07/23/2018)

U.S. News & World Report: Keeping Migrant Kids in Detention Centers and Shelters Can Damage Them (07/10/2018)

The Brookings Institution: The enormous cost of toxic stress: Repairing damage to refugee and separated children (07/09/2018)

Deseret News: When a child is traumatized, this one thing helps their recovery the most (07/06/2018)

The Christian Science Monitor: After family separation: How to promote healing for migrant children? (06/29/2018)

PRI’s The World, WGBH, and The Forum at T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Live Q&A: Crisis at the Border (video)

PRI’s The World: Discussion: What trauma are separated migrant children now dealing with? (06/28/2018)

Duluth News Tribune: Local View: All state-sponsored family separations are catastrophic moral disasters (06/27/2018)

Spectrum: Viewpoint: How separating children from parents causes irreparable harm (06/26/2018)

NBC Nightly News: Experts warn of emotional toll on migrant children as families reunite (06/24/2018)

The Hechinger Report: How trauma and stress affect a child’s brain development (06/22/2018)

Quartz: “The only buffer you have is a parent. Take that away, and everything falls apart.” (06/21/2018)

The Wall Street Journal: The Effects of Parental Separation on Children (subscription required) (06/20/2018)

BBC News: The health impacts of separating migrant children from parents (06/19/2018)

ABC News: What to know about the negative health effects of separating kids and parents (06/19/2018)

Washington Post: What separation from parents does to children: ‘The effect is catastrophic’ (06/18/2018)

PBS NewsHour: How the toxic stress of family separation can harm a child (06/18/2018)

BuzzFeed: Immigrant Children Who Are Forcibly Separated From Their Parents Face Long-Term Trauma (06/15/2018)

More media coverage

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