Release date: 2/13/2017

The recent Trump administration travel ban stands in direct opposition to the mission of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, an international organization committed to improving the physical and psychosocial health and well-being of all adolescents and young adults, regardless of religion or country of origin.

The periods of adolescence and young adulthood are characterized by dramatic physical, cognitive, and emotional growth.  As adolescents and young adults are developing their social, cultural and moral identities, it is a critical time for communicating messages of selflessness, inclusion, acceptance and optimism. Labeling certain groups as “different” and “dangerous” by virtue only of their religion or country of origin will have fundamentally negative effects on their wellbeing. Moreover, connection to family members and trusted adults is crucial throughout childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, and separation from family through actions like the travel ban will result in mental health challenges for U.S. youth whose families extend beyond American borders.

We implore President Trump, and those around him, to consider the ramifications of the travel ban on adolescents and young adults in the countries specifically named and around the world. The impacts are manifold. Families around the world look to the United States (U.S.) for many things, including guidance, education and aid. Young people may choose to attend college in the U.S., enriching the culture of higher education and bringing significant innovation to our institutions. Many young adults from overseas seek out doctoral opportunities in the U.S., bringing a fresh perspective to our scientific and academic communities. Disruption of education at any stage, by refusing entry to these families and young scholars, not only harms the future prospects of individuals, but also diminishes our own reputation and performance as an outward-looking scientific and industrial community. We do not believe that the executive order makes us safer; rather, it makes us less safe by breeding negative sentiments around the world, stifling education opportunities, interfering with cross-cultural relationship building, and making it more difficult to provide assistance and protection to those who need it most.

SAHM also is opposed to the travel ban because of its negative effect on our members who are from countries outside of the United States. We are an international organization committed to serving the clinical, research, and educational needs of adolescent health professionals throughout the world.  This executive order inhibits the effectiveness and efficiencies of all such avenues and makes the job of meeting our mission much more difficult.  Our leaders must set a better example, and not squander the resources that our adolescents and young adults offer for the future.

Gregory D. Zimet, PhD, FSAHM  
SAHM President
Professor of Pediatrics & Clinical Psychology 
Indiana University
Tamera Coyne-Beasley, MD, MPH, FAAP, FSAHM
SAHM President-elect
Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine
University of North Carolina

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