New on the bookshelf: Child maltreatment in the WestJean Labbé, MD, FRCPC, spent his career as a pediatrician protecting children and youth. He is recognized for his role in furthering child protection through socio-legal medicine: providing expert testimony in court; and developing curriculum, lecturing and publishing on the topic. In 1976, he co-founded the first child protection clinic in Quebec at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université Laval (CHUL). He also initiated child protection committees for hospitals at CHUL in 1984. Now retired, he is a Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Medicine at Laval University.
Briefly describe the subject of your book.
Child maltreatment has been around for as long as mankind. This book retraces the history of maltreatment suffered by children in Western civilization, from Antiquity to modern times. In addition to the four classic categories of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect, the book also deals with institutional abuse and certain practices that are harmful to children, such as exploitation of child labour, wet nursing, swaddling of infants, the use of opioids to keep them quiet and medical abuse. The last chapter is devoted to the slow progress in recognizing the importance of this major public health problem, even among those who could see its consequences, such as physicians, despite many attempts by more enlightened individuals to raise awareness of the issue.
Briefly describe what motivated you to write this book.
Child maltreatment is a subject in which I am keenly interested, having worked for 37 years as a consultant pediatrician in child protection. I am also an avid student of history and during my readings I realized that there had been no books published in French on the history of child maltreatment, while several works have been published in English on this topic. That is what prompted me to write this book as my first retirement project.
Why will your book interest readers?
Because physicians have an important role to play in detecting and preventing child maltreatment. The historical perspective will enable them to put the current child protection situation in context.
Do you have any final comments or observations about your book to share?
By coincidence, my book came out just when the entire Quebec population was in shock following the death of an abused child living in the town of Granby. This led to greater awareness of the issue of child protection, and the Quebec government is preparing to launch a commission of inquiry in order to reassess our child protection system. This book was therefore published at a propitious time for reflection on the major problem of child maltreatment.
La maltraitance des enfants en Occident is available in bookstores and from Les Presses de l’Université Laval, for $39.95.
This book is only available in French.
Related: Interview in leSoleil with Dr. Labbé, Maltraitance: un problème majeur de santé publique