The Atlantic

Children Cannot Parent Other Children

Reports of babies and toddlers being left in the care of slightly older children in detention facilities at the U.S.-Mexico border reveal an ongoing atrocity.
Source: AP / Gregory Bull

A fundamental truth about children is that they have needs they cannot themselves fulfill. They need people who acquire and prepare food for them, and people who look out for their safety and cleanliness. Beyond those material needs, they also need people who care for them emotionally, tending to them when they are sick and supporting them through tough times. Normally these duties fall to parents, but they can also fall to relatives, family friends, babysitters, teachers, or social workers. At the border, in detention centers, they are falling to other detained children, a harrowing detail in a sea of harrowing details now being reported.

Lawyers who visited a border station in Clint, Texas, this week that during their visit, they encountered small children who had been taken from their parents under , some of them infants and toddlers, who are receiving little time or attention from adult caregivers or supervisors. Instead, some detained children receive affection and care—such as being held, rocked, bathed, fed, and even changed—only from other, slightly older detained children. As the AP reported Saturday:

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic13 min readPolitics
The 2020 Congressional-Retirement Tracker
For the second consecutive election, more Republicans than Democrats are forgoing reelection, a potentially ominous sign for the GOP in 2020.
The Atlantic7 min read
The Date Hong Kong Protesters Can’t Escape
The year 2047 is a deadline that has come to symbolize the end of the territory’s way of life.
The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
The Ukraine Transcripts Are a Road Map for Impeachment
The experience of following the impeachment inquiry over the past week has been a bit like that old Buster Keaton skit of a man being taken down by an ever-expanding newspaper. The 1921 clip from the silent movie The High Sign shows Keaton settling d