Open Letter to Senators Van Hollen and Cardin

I am writing to express my deep concern about the zero tolerance policy implemented by the Trump administration in the last two months. As a pediatric provider, I want to provide you with information about the negative impact this policy has on the developing child currently and in the future. Approximately twenty years ago Kaiser Permanente completed a study involving 17,000 patients to identify the impact of adverse child events (ACEs) on the physical and mental well-being of individuals. Children exposed to one ACE are at increased risk for cognitive impairments, social and emotional problems, heart disease, cancer, and hypertension. Children exposed to more than 4 ACEs Individuals exposed to stress in early childhood are more likely to experience early death, dying twenty years earlier than the usual expected life expectancy. Below is a list of the potential adverse events.

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical neglect
  • Emotional neglect
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Mother treated violently
  • Substance misuse within household
  • Household mental illness
  • Parental separation or divorce
  • Incarcerated household member

The impact of these events may alter the epigenetics of these children effecting future generations resulting in increased risk for the diseases identified above as well as increasing risk for substance abuse, poor academic outcomes and future employment.

Are we willing to accept this potential outcome for these children?

I implore you and your colleagues to speak out about this heinous policy now these children cannot wait one more day for congress to act.

I am attaching links to the original study and a short video highlighting the potential negative impact of separating children from their parents.

https://www.ted.com/talks/nadine_burke_harris_how_childhood_trauma_affects_health_across_a_lifetime#t-929035

https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(98)00017-8/abstract

Barbara Wise PhD, RN, CPNP