IMA chief bemoans ‘poor care' for abused children

Dr. Leonid Eidelman calls for providing adequate therapy, increased psychiatric sessions for children who have undergone abuse.

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June 3, 2013 03:34
1 minute read.
LEONID EIDELMAN

LEONID EIDELMAN 370. (photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO)

The number of psychiatric sessions given to minors who have suffered sexual abuse must be increased significantly, Dr. Leonid Eidelman, chairman of the Israel Medical Association, said on Sunday.

He called on the Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child to discuss the issue, adding that the authorities must give high priority to children who are victims of such abuse.

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At present, such victims are entitled to 15 sessions with a psychotherapist, with the possibility of adding another 15 if they receive approval from a special committee.

As the therapy with the child includes sessions with his or her parents, in many cases many additional meetings are needed. A significant share of abused children grew up poor, and their parents cannot afford private treatment, Eidelman said.

In addition, children exposed to physical abuse usually suffer significant emotional damage, especially low self-esteem, he continued.

Eidelman called for providing adequate therapy to children who have undergone physical abuse in the home. In that situation, parental abusers must receive therapy as well and learn how to halt the violence and change their behavior, the IMA chairman said.

There is a nationwide shortage of pediatric psychiatrists with expertise in the field, Eidelman said. “Every district or large mental health clinic should have a psychiatrist who would coordinate treatment of children who have undergone sexual and/or physical abuse,” he insisted. At present, no psychiatric treatment is given to such children until they are examined by a police investigator, said Eidelman, so much time may pass before the child gets the therapy he needs. This practice must cease immediately, he added.



Left untreated, many children who have suffered violence, maltreatment and neglect develop emotional, behavioral, cognitive and physical problems – and some become suicidal. They may grow up to become abusers themselves, Eidelman said.


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