ISDP Statement on risks of racism to children

The International Society for Developmental Psychobiology (ISDP) wants to take this opportunity to unequivocally condemn racism and police brutality. We stand with the peaceful protesters that are demanding that the constitutional rights of Black people in America be respected. We join their voices in demanding that the two separate systems of justice, one applied to White Americans and a different one applied to Americans of color be abolished through immediate policy reform. We call for an equitable and fair criminal justice system that respects and upholds the rights of all Americans regardless of race.

Consistent with the focus of our scientific community, we are enraged in particular on behalf of Black children who are repeatedly subjected to racial injustice and profiling of themselves and their family members. These victims of racial injustice also face a system that jails their fathers and male role models in disproportionate numbers and thus deprives them of the full range of potential caregiving experiences. When our justice system kills and over-incarcerates Black men, it disrupts families and affects children. Science tells us that responsive and sensitive caregiving builds healthy brains. The stress and inequalities that Black people face from the current system make it so much harder for caring parents to provide this support to their children.

Uncertainty and stress place children at risk for long-term physical and mental health consequences. As developmental scientists, we pledge to continue and expand our work with communities of color and to promote an active dialog, listening and engaging with the community to find ways to best use science and advocacy to envision and encourage a more hopeful, inclusive, and safe childhood for all moving forward. We as a Society commit to examining our own professional and personal biases and behaviors to stem the tide of racism. Silence is complacency. ISDP commits to rejecting that silence.

 While this moment is one where we focus on the impact of police violence against black communities, we would be remiss if we did not highlight the impact of institutional racism on healthcare, education, housing, and voting rights in America. We call on our government to immediately implement long-overdue reforms to address the stain of systemic racism in this country.