By ILLTUD EVANS, O.P.
Maladjusted Children, by Charles L. C. Burns (Hollis and Carter, Its).
Amaladjusted child is statuto rily described as one who „ suffers from an emotional or psychological disorder ". It is sometimes cynically supposed that such a child is in fact the invention of modern psychology, and the prominence nowadays given to problems of child welfare is assumed by the traditionalist to be a symptom of sentimentality if not of irreligion.
There has been great need of a simple book wich should describe what the child psychologist is trying to do, and which should be written from within the Christian tradition with its respect for the moral sanctions which religion requires. Dr. Burns, himself endowed with immense experience, and the capacity for untechnice] explanation, has written precisely such a book. All one really needs to say about it is that it should be in the hands of every parent, teacher and priest.
Catholics are perhaps more inclined than anyone else to be suspicious of modern psychology and the treatment it prescribes. That is natural enough, since many psychologists have indeed encouraged a limitation of the concepts 4 of moral law, parental authority
and discipline, which Catholics see to be essential to the human situation.
But the excesses of a few are not evidence against the profoundly valuable work of the many, and Dr. Burns' patient and informed description of the work of a Child Guidance clinic should convince the sceptical Catholic of the importance, for the health of the totalperson, of a sane investigation and (if need be) treatment of a maladjusted child.
He has wise things to say about punishment, sex instruction, and indeed about the whole difficult process of a true education. And all that he says only underlines the authentic Catholic understanding of what family life is for and therefore the need for the treatment at its deepest level of all that can destroy it. In this countrywe are committed to a huge burden in providing Catho lic schools. This heroic task can be largely wasted if the schools are all the time dealing with families that are disturbed, and hence with ' children who, in varying degrees, are maladjusted to ordinary life.
The high incidence of delinquency among Catholic children, as well as the tragic loss to the Church of so many children when they come to leave school, is not the fault primarily of the schools. Its cause is to be sought in the failure of children to adjust themselves to the demands of responsible Catholic life: a failure too often to be found in the family that has failed.
Fortunately there is a growing awareness, among Catholics, that this is so, and Dr. Burns' book, one hopes, may emphasise the need for Catholic Child Guidance Clinics on the pattern of those which have been so successfully established by the Sisters of Notre Dame at Glasgow and Liverpool. His book should be of the greatest assistance to all who, sharing his sanity and freedom from censoriousness, are working for that end.