Dr. Redlener joins Brian Lehrer of WNYC to talk about the psychological trauma and effects on immigrant children that have been separated from their families and why it constitutes "child abuse and neglect by government," which could lead to legal consequences.
The bandwagon of child care and health professionals who have characterized the federal government’s forced separation of migrant children from their parents as “child abuse by government” is overflowing. It would indeed be difficult to concoct a more traumatizing experience for already vulnerable infants and children then what these kids have gone through.
The fact is that, as a pediatrician, if I saw a child being subject to the terror these kids are experiencing I would be ethically and legally obliged to contact the authorities. But wait: The authorities are the perpetrators!
Even assuming the worst, it is hard to imagine that anybody — even in this White House — planned to have Melania Trump’s seemingly heartfelt public statement about cherishing and protecting children utterly neutralized — almost mockingly — by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ s ice-cold reiteration of protocols for dealing with immigrant families seeking asylum status in the United States.
￼￼￼Dr. Irwin Redlener spends a lot of time thinking about what can go wrong. For decades, he has advised governments about how to handle the public health consequences of hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks, earthquakes, and the like. That’s because, as director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, analyzing all the various catastrophes that can befall human beings—as well as figuring out strategies for preparing to withstand disaster and recovering when the worst happens—is, quite simply, his job.
“This study points to a major crisis facing the children of the post-Katrina Gulf Region,” says Irwin Redlener, MD, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and president of the Children’s Health Fund. “From the perspective of the Gulf’s most vulnerable children and families, the recovery from Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans has been a dismal failure.”