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Mental Health Perspectives: What separation from parents does to children

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Mental Health Perspectives: What separation from parents does to children

Featuring: Dr. John Huber & Krisin Walker

More than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents since May after crossing the southern U.S. border, according to the Department of Homeland Security. And Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says the effects of such separation could impact the children for a long time.

“The longer the time of separation from that parent and the younger the child is, the more devastating it is,” Kraft tells PEOPLE, noting that such stressful circumstances can lead to poor brain development. “They go on not to develop their speech, not to be able to learn or bond socially or emotionally with another human being.”

She continues: “For young children to be without their parents and to be continuing to keep on red alert with these stress hormones, and to know this is going to inhibit their development and disrupt their lives, to me that is child abuse.”

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