A substantial body of well-replicated studies tells us that separation of children from their parents represents a severe stressor that affects brain development.  The negative consequences of such separations are more severe when children are younger, lack trusted caregivers, and when separations occur under adverse circumstances or are protracted.  Because children’s brains are still developing–establishing physical connections among nerve cells in response to lived experience, the damaging effects of such separations may be very long-lasting.  They are known to increase risk of anxiety disorders, depression, suicide, behavioral problems including substance use disorders, and poor life outcomes.  Policies that contribute to such separations are not only unethical, but also increase long-term healthcare and behavioral burdens on families and society.

***The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, ACNP, founded in 1961, is a professional organization of more than 1100 leading scientists, including four Nobel Laureates. The mission of ACNP is to further research and education in neuropsychopharmacology and related fields in the following ways: promoting the interaction of a broad range of scientific disciplines of brain and behavior in order to advance the understanding of prevention and treatment of disease of the nervous system including psychiatric, neurological, behavioral and addictive disorders; encouraging scientists to enter research careers in fields related to these disorders and their treatment; and ensuring the dissemination of relevant scientific advances.