DUNOVSKY, DYTRYCH, MATEJCEK : « The Abused, Exploited and Neglected Child » (Týrané, zneužívané a zanedbávané dítě)

GRADA Publishing House, Prague, 1995. Published with financial backing from the Czech Ministry of Health.

The authors of this Czech textbook on child abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, ritual, Munchausen syndrome-by-proxy) are well-known and highly respected experts in the filed of child care in the Czech Republic. Professor Dunovsky has published books and papers on social paediatrics and childhood developmental delay and represents his country on numerous international bodies. Professor Dytrych is a leading Czech psychiatrist, who continued to have contact with the West throughout the darkest days of Communism.
Together, Professors Dytrych and Matejcek drew attention to what they termed « psychological sub-deprivation » way back in the seventies, long before there was awarness of the damage done to children by « emotional abuse » in the West. Professor Matejcek is also a well-known researcher in fields such as dyslexia and specific learning problems.

Despite efforts of the Czech paediatricians from 1970 onwards, who were aware of the maltreatment, abuse and neglect to which some children were exposed, no encouragement was given to those dealing with the problem. It was only after the revolution in 1989 and the ISPCAN conference in Prague in 1991 that it was possible to make concrete plans for the future.

There are 21 chapters that fully cover all aspects of the subject, and a list of references of relevant papers in several European languages.

Professor Dytrych draws attention to the psychiatric conditions which may follow childbirth, such as postnatal depression and postnatal psychosis, sometimes leading to infanticide, a subject little discussed before the revolution. Under Communism there was a tendency to deny, on one hand, the existance of social and psychological problems, while on the other hand those who transgressed were treated very harshly and children were very readily removed from so-called anti-social families.

The book describes how, almost starting from scratch, services are now being organized to help with prevention, detection and treatment of parents and children, so that fewer children are being taken away from their parents. In order to help such families, close cooperation between professionals is essential.

They propose I) a nationally coordinated plan of child care for all children, II) inter-disciplinary cooperation, III) the main object of any treatment plan to be helping families function better, the removal of children being the last resort, IV) help should be available without delay, V) as much work as possible should be carried out in voluntary establishments, with community involvement, VI) as new laws are passed, these should be consistent with the internationally accepted convention of the « Rights of the Child » (1989), a declaration to which the Czech Republic is a signatory.

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