Experts of The Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb have contributed to the First international scientific and professional meeting of the Department of Psychology at the Croatian Catholic University held in Zagreb 7th and 8th December 2017.

In cooperation with the Psychiatric Hospital for Children and Youth, a round table on “Manipulation of Children in Divorce – Inter-sectoral Cooperation” was organized. The reason for organizing this roundtable is the fact that in the Republic of Croatia divorces roughly every third marriage. According to research and clinical practice, about one-third of divorce is considered to be highly conflicting, meaning that parents have deep, long-lasting and intense conflicts that last several years after divorce.

These families are especially at risk for emotional neglect and abuse of children, which is often found in the middle of parental conflict and are affected by manipulating parents. Under the manipulation or attempts at alienation of the child from the parents, we mean all conscious or unconscious actions of a parent directed at interfering with a child’s relationship with another parent.

Although the term child alienation syndrome is controversial in the general and professional public, we can certainly talk about manipulation of children as a form of child abuse, which has the same consequences for the physical, emotional and sexually abused children outside the circumstances of the parent’s divorce.

The purpose of this roundtable was to discuss the latest professional and scientific knowledge of manipulation of children in divorce from the position of clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, court expert, police representative, the Center for Social Welfare and the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia, in order to provide an example of multidisciplinary and inter-sectoral cooperation according to contemporary world standards. This Roundtable is also the first opportunity to gather in Croatia a multidisciplinary team of experts who are talking about manipulation, and that is in a public works on inter-sectoral cooperation on this issue.

The moderator of the round table was Mia Roje, Mr. Sc. of Psychology from The Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb, and participants of the roundtable were:

Doc. Dr. Sc. Vlatka Boričević Maršanić, MD, Psychiatric Specialist, Pediatric and Adolescent Psychiatric, Psychiatric Hospital for Children and Youth Zagreb

Prof. Dr. Sc. Gordana Buljan Flander, Psychologist and Psychotherapist, Permanent Court expert, The Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb

Renata Šantek, MA of Law, Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia

Dragan Josipović, Police Directorate

Snježana Bubenik, Social Worker, Center for Social Welfare Zagreb

Marija Crnković, Clinical Psychologist, Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb

There was talk about manipulation in the divorce from the position of each profession, challenges and opportunities in work and guidelines for further cooperation of different professions, so that we could act together in the best interest of the child. This is opportunity to thank all participants and interested professionals and students in the audience who have contributed to the development of cooperation.

Within the section Risk and protective factors of children’s welfare, neuropediatrician of The Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb Doc. dr. sc. Vanja Slijepčević Saftić, MD, presented the paper: “Could protection against adverse childhood experiences result in better outcomes of neurological and health development?” about the impact of adverse factors of growing up on the child’s neurodevelopement (Authors: Vanja Slijepčević Saftić and Ella Selak Bagaric).

At the meeting the staff of The Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb participated as part of the symposium “The Advisory and therapeutic work with children and parents – Challenges and Opportunities”, chaired by Marija Crnkovic, clinical psychologist. In this symposium, they shared the analysis of measurable data and a series of examples of experiences, difficulties, challenges and dilemmas with other professionals whose professional interests are concerned with the youngest members of our society as well as those older who assume responsibility for counseling and therapy.

This symposium was attended by:

Marjeta Knez Turčinović, MD, Psychiatric Specialist, Psychotherapy Subspecialist

Renata Ćorić Špoljar, Clinical Psychologist

Vlatka Križan, Clinical Psychologist

Marija Crnković, Clinical Psychologist

Dora Kralj, Social Educator

Nikolina Škrlec, Social Worker

Doc. Dr. Sc. Danijel Crnković, MD, Psychiatric Specialist, Subspecialist of biological psychiatry from Clinical hospital “Sestre milosrdnice”, and also our former colleague who was working in Center.

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