David Shapiro, CEO of MENTOR, on the Separation of Children from Families at the U.S. Border

By David Shapiro, CEO of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership

We stand against the unjustifiable, unconscionable, and unsafe policy of separating children from their families at the U.S. southern border. Creating this kind of trauma for families weakens the threads of our collective fabric and is antithetical to our guiding light – to work to ensure consistent love, support, and opportunity for all our young people. This inhumane policy inflicts trauma on young people and as noted by the American Psychiatric Association, ‘is highly stressful for children and can cause lifelong trauma, as well as an increased risk of other mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.’

To do right by all of our children, we can and must do better. The traumatization of even one child is too many.

At MENTOR, we stand for providing all the protective and positive relationships we possibly can for young people. We see the transformative power when all young people are safe, valued, and connected. Most importantly, we know that the well-being of all children must transcend politics. And correspondingly, we see the price paid in justice, ideals, and economic cost when we do not prioritize the wellbeing of all young people.

It should be noted that parents are best positioned, whenever possible, to be their children’s first and longest-term mentors, with community mentors as additional developmental assets. Mentors and other caring adults play a role in addressing issues alongside young people by providing a safe and supportive space to talk, and by providing actionable ways to create positive change. The instability created by this forced separation policy results in unnecessary fear and trauma. For mentors who are working with youth experiencing trauma, MENTOR suggests the following resources:

Supporting Young People in the Wake of Violence and Trauma

A New Lens for Mentoring: Trauma-informed Care

For those looking to join MENTOR and the many others rejecting this policy, we recommend you call on Congress to support the Keep Families Together Act.