Monday, June 25, 2018

State Sponsored Child Abuse - my view

We have an active listserve within the American Academy of Pediatrics, the fabled SOAPM listserve (Section on Administration and Practice Management.)  Here, as elsewhere in the country, there has been much discussion on our current problems at the border, which probably should be labelled Adventures In State Sponsored Child Abuse.  Here's what I wrote:

On this topic of immigration and refugees, it is not surprising that we should see controversy here on the listserve.  I agree that many issues are intermixed.  I reflected on what was said, and I divided myself into parts.

As a citizen (and, I guess, as a Jew who knows Nazi and Communist history) I feel pretty much the way Sonia does; no need to go through that in detail.  I would prefer to be welcoming to refugees fleeing failed states in Central America, which unlike European and African refugee states, is on our doorstep, is in our neck of the woods.  If they want to become Americans, I would set up ways for them to become Americans and adopt American culture, while bringing their own culture here to enrich us, but to learn and use English, for example.  Most would welcome as a gift classes, support, and jobs.  If they don't want to become Americans, they can be provided with support with the intention of their returning to the homeland when safe.  This is basic humanitarianism.  I would say that the US could support the return to lawfulness in the home countries, but our militarized foreign policy (see, for instance, Ronan Farrow, War on Peace: and our history in Latin America gives scant hope that we could be effective with that.

Other citizens may feel differently on this issue and still be within the bounds of reason.  Much of it probably has to do with the size of their amygdalas, their surroundings, their personal history, and many other factors.

As a pediatrician, however, I think I know child abuse when I see it, and I think I know abuse of families.  If tearing children from parents is not child abuse, if preventing ongoing connection among family members, if producing and tolerating ongoing anguish is not abuse, what is?  As a pediatrician, and as a member of the AAP, I am outraged at ongoing immorality that to my mind constitutes crimes against humanity (I guess I just veered back to politics with that.)  As a pediatrician and a member of the AAP, I fully support what officials and individual pediatricians have done to point out that clean beds and toys don't constitute sufficient care, and that individual psychological health is much more important than meeting objective bureaucratic government standards.  As a member of the AAP and as a pediatrician, I feel so terribly strongly about this issue that I will join any march I can, hold signs when I can, and I would hope that the AAP would have contingents in every march, emphasizing that holding children hostage and separating them from their parents is child abuse, a crime against humanity, and even (I would say) state sponsored terrorism (it's hard to keep politics out of this.) I will do whatever else I can also -- we all have different things to contribute.

Finally, as a student of history and political science, I can only deplore what Trump and this administration are doing to the country.  A recent book is good: How Democracies Die (  In this fine work of political science, tucked away in a stray paragraph, the authors observe that there are very few instances in world history where a dominant ethnic group has easily given up that dominance.  In the US, we can see that since the Civil Rights movement, the Southern Strategy, Willie Horton, and now the anti-immigrant anti-Muslim anti-non-European foreigner movement, the Republican party has gone to great lengths to suppress the vote of others and otherwise to at least postpone the change in the country from white to multi-ethnic dominance.  It's hard for me to see this crisis through any other lens.

I am doing my best to be objective, and this is about as dispassionate as I can get.  Seeing children cry and be torn apart just breaks my heart, and I am furious with those who institute and perpetuate the conscious policies intended to bring anguish, basically for their own selfish ends.

Budd Shenkin

Budd Shenkin <>

8:53 AM (1 minute ago)

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