Pediatricians Speak Out On Trump’s Claim That Tear Gas Is “Very Safe”

The  American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement after President Donald Trump claimed tear gas is “very safe”

  • In Biloxi on Tuesday Trump also claimed “grabbers” were using children as human shields

  • Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen also claimed children were used as human shields on Monday

  • The AAP said the use of tear gas against children in diapers “threatens their short and long-term health”

Following the use of tear gas on asylum seekers at the San Ysidro port of entry, President Donald Trump claimed on Tuesday that children — some of which were young enough to be in diapers — were exposed to a “very minor form of tear gas.”

In Biloxi, Mississippi, ABC News’ Karen Travers asked Trump how he felt seeing images of women and children running from tear gas during Sunday’s clash. Trump responded by saying the tear gas was “very minor,” then went on to say people picked children up to get a “status,” and claimed tear gas was “very safe.”

Well, I do say, why are they there? I mean, I have to start off: First of all, the tear gas is a very minor form of the tear gas itself. It’s very safe. The ones that were suffering, to a certain extent, were the that were putting it out there. But it’s very safe.

But you really say, why is a parent running up into an area where they know the tear gas is forming, and it’s going to be formed, and they’re running up with a child? And in some cases you know they’re not the parents. These are people, they call them grabbers: They grab a child because they think they’re gonna have a certain status by having a child.

You know, you have certain advantages in terms of our crazy laws, that frankly Congress should be changing. If you changed the laws, you wouldn’t be having this problem. I think the funding of the wall right now has never looked better. It never looked better.

The term “Grabbers” is not a term that is widely used. In a statement made on Monday night, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen backed the claim that women and children are being used as human shields.

The caravan members are predominately male. It appears in some cases that the limited number of women and children in the caravan are being used by the organizers as ‘human shields’ when they confront law enforcement. They are being put at risk by the caravan organizers, as we saw at the Mexico-Guatemala border. This is putting vulnerable people in harm’s way.

On Tuesday, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement in response to Trump’s claim of tear gas being used on children as being “very safe.” In the statement written by Colleen A. Kraft, MD, MBA, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics, it states that children are “uniquely vulnerable to physiological effects of chemical agents.”

Images and news reports of tear gas being used on children and families seeking asylum at our border have stunned and shaken pediatricians just as they have so many others across the country. Our objection to this type of treatment of children and their parents is grounded in our own policy:

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all immigrant children and families seeking safe haven are treated with dignity and respect to protect their health and well-being. Children who are displaced and fleeing violence should be given special protection and humanitarian assistance and allowed to petition for asylum. The use of tear gas on children—including infants and toddlers in diapers— goes against evidence-based recommendations, and threatens their short and long-term health.

Children are uniquely vulnerable to physiological effects of chemical agents. A child’s smaller size, more frequent number of breaths per minute and limited cardiovascular stress response compared to adults magnifies the harm of agents such as tear gas.

Many of these children are fleeing conditions that threaten their health and safety; they have taken harrowing journeys to seek refuge in our country. Our government must take extra precautions when it comes to children. We must make every effort not to retraumatize them.

Immigrant children are still children, and they deserve our compassion and assistance. We will continue to speak out against their inhumane treatment and advocate for their safety.

 

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About Meko Haze

Meko Haze is an independent journalist by day... and an independent journalist by night.

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