Zelazo pens op-ed on impact of separating children and families

Philip Zelazo, Ph.D.

Philip D. Zelazo, Ph.D., Nancy M. and John E. Lindahl Professor in the Institute of Child Development (ICD), recently co-authored an opinion article in The Hechinger Report on the long-term impact of toxic stress on children who were separated from their families at the southern border.

“Forced separations are extremely stressful, and when stress is strong, frequent and/or prolonged, and occurs without the buffering support of adults to whom the children are attached, the stress can be toxic,” wrote Zelazo and co-author Ellen Galinsky, chief science officer at the Bezos Family Foundation and co-founder of Families and Work Institute. They noted that toxic stress “puts children into a chronic flight or fight response that can compromise their immune function, damage their physical health and undermine the development of brain networks that support their executive function skills.”

According to Zelazo and Galinsky, “we can help children and families recover. But to do so, we must ensure that these reunions take place as soon as possible, and that the children and their parents receive therapeutic help in reconnecting and adjusting to their new lives.”

For more information, read the full article, “Child victims of toxic stress face a long road to healing.”