Psychology Department members cite research against family separations

Sign: stop the inhumanity of separating familiesThe Department of Psychology created a “Positive Action Team” during the 2017-2018 year to create public facing statements affirming our Department’s mission and values. In response to the ongoing crises with family separations, the team drafted the following open letter which is also posted on our Department website. See  here.

UC Berkeley Department of Psychology Statement on Family Separations

Faculty, staff, and graduate students from the UC Berkeley Department of Psychology add our voice to the American Psychological Association, The American Psychiatric Association,The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, the American College of Physicians, the Society for Research in Child Development, international attachment researchers, and the American College of Nurse Midwives in condemning in the strongest possible terms the Trump Administration’s policy of detaining, separating and/or keeping separated families attempting to enter the US on our southern border. With the aforementioned groups, our department considers this policy to be irresponsibly and unnecessarily harmful and cruel, completely unjustifiable, and utterly contrary to the moral values of our nation.

 

Psychological research indicates that forced separation of families, especially the separation of young children from their primary caregivers, carries enormous risks of severe and potentially irreparable harm. Forced separation may lead to acute trauma, which can trigger increased vulnerability to mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder, and can impair children’s neurological, social, and cognitive development. Long-term outcomes known to be associated with childhood trauma include substance misuse, depression, suicide, and poor physical health. These kinds of impacts are likely to be especially severe for families already dealing with the considerable stress of fleeing war, violence, and instability in their home countries. Resilience is certainly possible for children undergoing extreme stressors and family separations. That is, children experiencing the kinds of trauma just noted can avoid lasting negative effects, with the right, timely interventions. Yet adding to such severe stress with family separation is not a humane or scientifically defensible strategy. It is morally abhorrent to deliberately and callously inflict such harms on innocent children for any purpose. We call on the Trump Administration, Congress, and the Department of Homeland Security to immediately reunite families who have been separated and end this shameful chapter in this nation’s history.

 

Signed,

Karen De Valois, Emeritus Professor

Stephen Palmer, Emeritus Professor

Ervin Hafter, Emeritus Professor

Philip Cowan, Emeritus Professor

Dan Slobin, Emeritus Professor

Carolyn Cowan, Emeritus Professor

Donald A. Riley, Emeritus Professor

Eric Hesse, Adjunct Professor

Mary Main, Professor

Allison Harvey, Professor

Robert Knight, Professor

Lance Kriegsfeld, Professor

Iris Mauss, Professor

Sheri Johnson, Professor

Dacher Keltner, Professor

Lucia Jacobs, Professor

Ozlem Ayduk, Professor

Frederic Theunissen, Professor

Stephen Hinshaw, Professor

Ann Kring, Professor

Aaron Fisher, Assistant Professor

Mahesh Srinivasan, Assistant Professor

Mark Ho, Postdoc

Sarah Metz, Postdoc

Christine Mullarkey, Staff member

John Schindel, Staff member

Cynthia Baker-Smith, Staff member

Arlene Diaz, Staff member

R. Harumi Quinones, Staff member

Vivian Hoang, Staff member

Elizabeth Peele, Staff member

Jennifer Pearlstein, Graduate student

Catherine Berner, Staff member

Isaac Mirzadegan, Staff member

Paul Connor, Graduate student

Peter Soyster, Graduate student

Daniel Stancato, Graduate student

Stephen Antonoplis, Graduate student

Shoshana Jarvis, Graduate student

Amanda Perez, Graduate student

Devon Sandel, Graduate student

Daniel Lurie, Graduate student

Frances Nkara, Graduate student

Alice Hua, Graduate student

Arianna Benedetti, Graduate student

Kaley Curtis, Graduate student

Susan Mauskopf, Graduate student

Samy Abdel-Ghaffar, Graduate student

Catherine Anicama, Graduate student

Sources:

Chaudry, A. (2011). Children in the aftermath of immigration enforcement. The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 4 (1), 137-154.

Dreby, J. (2012). The burden of deportation on children in Mexican immigrant families. Journal of Marriage and Family,74, 829-845. Doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2012.00989x

Hofer, M. A. (2006). Psychobiological Roots of Early Attachment. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(2), 84–88. doi:10.1111/j.0963-7214.2006.00412.x

Pascuzzo, K., Moss, E., & Cyr, C. (2015). Attachment and Emotion Regulation Strategies in Predicting Adult Psychopathology. SAGE Open, 5, 215824401560469. doi:10.1177/2158244015604695 Robjant,

K., Hassan, R., & Katona, C. (2009). Mental health implications of detaining asylum seekers: systematic review. The british journal of psychiatry, 194(4), 306-312.

Robjant, K., Robbins, I., & Senior, V. (2009). Psychological distress amongst immigration detainees: A cross-sectional questionnaire study. British journal of clinical psychology, 48(3), 275-286.

Rojas-Flores, L., Clements, M., Koo, J. London, J. (2017). Trauma and Psychological Distress in Latino Citizen Children Following Parental Detention and Deportation. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, Vol 9, No. 3, 352.

Shonkoff, J. P., Garner, A. S., Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, & Committee on Early Childhood, Adoption, and Dependent Care. (2011). The lifelong effects of early childhood adversity and toxic stress. Pediatrics, peds-2011.

Suárez-Orozco, C., Bang, H.J. & Kim, H.Y (2010). I felt like my heart was staying behind: Psychological implications of family separations and reunifications for immigrant youth. Journal of Adolescent Research 26(2), 222-257.

Suárez-Orozco, C., (2017). Conferring Disadvantage: Behavioral and Developmental Implications for Children Growing up in the Shadow of Undocumented Immigration Status. Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc., 426

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