APA and AACAP Deeply Concerned Over Reports that Parents of Children Separated from Families at U.S. Border Cannot be Found

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 22, 2020 – The American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry today issued the following statement in response to media reports that the parents of 545 migrant children separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border can no longer be found.

We are appalled by the reports, based on legal filings, that authorities are unable to find the parents of 545 children who were separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border under this administration’s punitive “Zero-Tolerance” policy.

The APA and AACAP have long spoken out against the harmful practice of separating children from their parents. It is well-documented in psychiatric literature that even brief family separations can cause significant and often irreparable harm to children, resulting in lifelong setbacks in learning, behavior, and health. The risks to health and development are even more concerning for traumatic and prolonged separations. The federal government must make every effort to quickly reunite these families, and to ensure children have access to adequate mental health services while living with sponsors and in foster homes.

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 38,800 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information please visit www.psychiatry.org.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry promotes the healthy development of children, adolescents, and families through advocacy, education, and research. Child and adolescent psychiatrists are the leading physician authority on children’s mental health. For more information, please visit www.aacap.org.

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