Science tells us that the interactions between genes and environment shape human development. “Epigenetics” is an emerging area of scientific research that shows how environmental influences—including the experiences we provide for children—actually affect the expression of their genes. This means that the old idea that genes are "set in stone" has been disproven. Nature vs. Nurture is no longer a debate. It's nearly always both!
To understand more about epigenetics and how it affects child development and long-term health outcomes, check out this new infographic.
"From a scientific perspective, the forcible separation of children from their parents is like setting a house on fire. Prolonging that separation is like preventing the first responders from doing their job."
-Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D.
At a hearing of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Center Director Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., presented testimony related to the response of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to the family separation policy that was implemented at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2018.
Dr. Shonkoff testified about both the trauma that such a forcible separation can cause, as well as the long-term effects of toxic stress that continue to compound until separated children and their parents or caregivers are reunited.