Readers React: Separating children from their parents inflicts more trauma than forcing them to endure war

Immigrants' rights activists demonstrate against forced separation of migrant children from their parents in New York on June 1.
Immigrants’ rights activists demonstrate against forced separation of migrant children from their parents in New York on June 1.
(Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

To the editor: During World War II, Operation Pied Piper was implemented in Great Britain, mostly to spare children the trauma of the blitzkrieg bombings.

Many children were relocated out of London, but it meant they were separated from their parents, who remained in the city to work. Many parents refused this program and went with their children below ground, where they endured the bombings together.

On Dec. 6, 1941, Anna Freud, the daughter of Sigmund Freud, reported the results of a 12-month study she authored. Its conclusion: “Separation from their parents was a worse shock for children than a bombing.”


A large body of research proves that even brief forced separations are harmful to the health and mental well-being of children and their parents. They can cause long-lasting trauma and lead to serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Taking children from their caregivers is a cruel and inhumane policy. It is also contrary to our American values.

Lee Jaffe, La Jolla

The writer, a psychoanalyst, is president-elect of the American Psychoanalytic Assn.


To the editor: From time to time I read charges that government agents are “jackbooted thugs.” I always dismissed these claims as delusions of the paranoid right — until now.


Wrenching children from desperate mothers is as thuggish as it gets. The U.S. attorney general’s stated rationale that this is to deter illegal immigration is at best misguided, and surely inhumane. We were supposed to have given up the idea that children should suffer for the sins of their parents at the end of the Dark Ages.

This administration is the worst of the worst. People who have any concern for their fellow humans or adhere to their religious teachings should demand that the government puts a stop to this horrible behavior.

Remember to go to the polls this year and vote every enabler of these policies out of office.

Roger Bourke, Alta, Utah

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