Bank Street Statement on US-Mexico Border Conditions for Children and Families

Statue of Liberty mural at Bank Street

Bank Street College of Education is dedicated to advancing the human rights of every person, as defined under international law. Drawing on our collective knowledge of children and our 100-year history as their advocates, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the conditions in which children detained by the Departments of Homeland Security and Heath and Human Services are being held on the US-Mexico border.

To separate children from their parents is unconscionable and morally unacceptable. Furthermore, children clearly must have access to basic necessities required by all human beings: food, adequate sleep, access to showers and toothbrushes, and appropriate medical care. Beyond these basic needs, children are a uniquely vulnerable population and require specialized attention to their psychological and emotional development and safety. Children require:

  • The presence of and attachment to a caring adult
  • A predictable, nurturing environment with opportunities for play, exploration, and learning
  • A safe place to express and process grief and trauma without fear of repercussion

We demand that any children in custody who are separated from their families be reunited with their loved ones at once. To begin to address the harm that has already been inflicted on detained children, they must immediately be provided with access to pediatricians, social workers, and early childhood experts to assess the damage that has been inflicted by these conditions.

In order to help children in Homeland Security and Health and Human Services custody begin processing the trauma they are experiencing, a group of Bank Street faculty with expertise in working with children affected by trauma stand ready as volunteers, prepared to lead an effort in support of organizations already working at the border to create dedicated, developmentally appropriate learning and play spaces that could be used by families as they wind their way through the many stages of the asylum process. This would be a small, but concrete, step forward. We offer our expertise and service and call on our fellow educators to join us.

If you are interested in supporting this effort, please email: learningagenda@bankstreet.edu.