Josine Junger-Tas: The Life and Works of a Compassionate Criminologist
This article is the editorial introduction to the special issue of the European Journal of Criminal Policy and Research Compassionate Criminology: The Legacy of Josine Junger-Tas (1929–2011). The article consists of four parts and an Appendix (i.e., the bibliography of her publications). In the first section, we provide a brief overview of the highlights of her professional career of 40-plus years, including her contributions to the institutionalization of European criminology. The second section discusses how her focus on comparative criminology and policy relevance run as a red thread through her work as a criminologist. The third part centers around Junger-Tas’s consistent concern with the responsibility of scholars and researchers to “do the right thing” and to speak out for the most vulnerable parts of the population (youth in particular). We believe that as a public criminologist avant la lettre Junger-Tas’s main heritage lies in drawing the contours of what may be called evidence-based compassionate criminology. The fourth section provides a brief introduction to the seven articles in this special issue.
KeywordsCompassionate criminology Internationalization Evidence-based Public criminology
“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” Nelson Mandela
“Compassion is the basis of all morality.” Arthur Schopenhauer
“Compassion = sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” (Meriam-Webster dictionary)
The Successful Career of a “Late Bloomer”
Josine Junger-Tas was a passionate, prolific, and creative scholar who inspired many criminologists in Europe and beyond. Her contributions are recognized by the American Society of Criminology Sellin-Glueck award (1989), the American Society of Criminology Division of International Criminology Distinguished International Scholar Award (2007), and—last but definitely not least—the European Society of Criminology (ESC), European Criminology Award (2008). As the bibliography at the end of this article illustrates, she was a prolific writer, with publications written in Dutch (her native language), French, German, and English. Hers was not the typical academic career; she spent most of her working life as a civil servant and a working mother (in a time when that was not the typical routine for a mother of four daughters in The Netherlands). She saw retirement from her job with the Dutch government (in 1994) as an opportunity to finally be able to pursue her activities as a criminologist full time. Her life story, in our view, is an inspiring example of how the trajectory of one’s life course does not need to be preplanned from day 1 after graduation from high school or university. As a testimony to her esteem as a criminologist, upon her death in January 2011, obituaries were published in the ESC newsletter, Criminology in Europe; the newsletter of the American Society of Criminology, The Criminologist; several Dutch professional journals, e.g., Delikt en Delinkwent, Tijdschrift voor Criminologie, as well as in a number of other European professional journals. Her passing was not only noted by the professional community of criminologists, but telling is that the three leading quality newspapers in The Netherlands paid their respects through obituaries highlighting Josine’s contributions to the discourse on juvenile delinquency and crime prevention.
Josine Junger-Tas did not formally start her career as a criminologist until the age of 42, when she received her PhD. She wrote her dissertation on youth crime, Characteristics and Social Integration of Juvenile Delinquents, and received her PhD at Groningen University, The Netherlands, in 1972 under the supervision of Dutch criminologist Wouter Buikhuisen. In the early stage of her career, she worked as a researcher at the Study Centre of Juvenile Delinquency, Brussels, Belgium, but in 1975, she moved to The Netherlands, where—for about 20 years—she was associated with the Research and Documentation Center (WODC in Dutch; RDC in English) of the Dutch Ministry of Justice, honing her skills at “applied research with scientific integrity” (Junger-Tas 2005). From 1990 to 1994, as the director of the WODC, she skillfully and gracefully shepherded this government agency through difficult times, and she was instrumental in introducing the importance of evaluation studies (i.e., evidence-based policy) to the WODC and thus to The Netherlands at large.
After retiring from the WODC in 1994, she became a professor of youth criminology at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, where she received an honorary doctorate (2000). Both before and after her retirement, she was a visiting professor at various universities (e.g., Université de Montréal, Ecole de Criminologie, Montreal, Canada; University of Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden; University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK), and most recently at Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands. Josine was an enthusiastic, popular, and dedicated teacher. She easily connected with undergraduate students in large lecture halls, but she also gave generously of her time to mentor young graduate and postgraduate scholars. Her rapport with students may have been due to her own curious mind and tireless drive to keep up with new developments. Although she liked to read mysteries when travelling, her favorite reading materials were recent international journals or books on crime, immigration, violence, family life, and politics. She taught herself SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) at the age of 79, unwilling to leave the important task of analysis of her data to somebody else. Because of her ease in translating research findings into applied policy recommendations, Josine served on many domestic (Dutch) and international committees and advisory boards. In The Netherlands, she was a member of the Dutch National Council for the Administration of Criminal Law and Youth Protection. She was the president of the Select Committee of Experts on Juvenile Delinquency in the Council of Europe (1984–1987) and a member of the Scientific Council of the Council of Europe (1992–1996). In 2010 she travelled to Rome, Italy, to present her report titled Youth Violence and Knives, requested by the World Health Organization. A number of her many other accomplishments are presented below, starting with her contributions to the institutionalization of European criminology.
Contribution to the Institutionalization of European Criminology
Josine Junger-Tas was born in The Netherlands, spent some time as a young child in Indonesia, moved back to The Netherlands, and as a young married woman spent several years in Brussels, Belgium, before moving back to The Netherlands. There, she adopted two daughters from South Korea. Against this context, it is not too surprising that Josine Junger-Tas tended to look beyond national borders when it came to the discipline of criminology. In the following, we briefly highlight two important ways in which she contributed to the institutionalization of European criminology, first through her work as the founder of the European Journal of Criminal Policy and Research, and second, as one of the founders of the European Society of Criminology.
Editor of the European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research
The way Josine started the European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research is exemplary for her working style. In those days, the late 1980s, there was a positive mood regarding being European. There were many initiatives on a European level; even a newspaper was launched with that very title: The European. This weekly, billed as Europe’s first national newspaper, was founded by Robert Maxwell. It lasted from 11 May 1990 until December 1998. Josine’s idea was likewise to develop a forum for studying European criminology that was less dependent on the American dominance in criminology research. It was not so much a program as a kind of intuitive passion that made her organize several invitational colloquia in The Hague. It was a meaningful start of growing cooperation between scholars in Europe. Compared with earlier international exchanges between criminologists, there were two differences: an explicitly European orientation, and—in line with that—the idea to found a European criminological study community.
In addition to colloquia, Josine and RDC colleagues began thinking about a European criminological journal. The editorial policy of this journal was based on the Dutch journal, Justitiële verkenningen ( to be translated as Judicial Explorations), which was published by the RDC. This journal had a long tradition (it existed from the 1950s onward). Focusing on the disclosure of scientific literature for civil servants of the ministry, it developed into a policy-oriented journal with articles from (Dutch) researchers and policymakers alike. Until now, Judicial Explorations has had a theme-oriented invitational policy. It is not concerned with academic status; the editorial board invites and reviews draft articles on a chosen topic. The journal was, and still is, quite influential in the Dutch context.
That type of format also seemed to be possible in a European context, but, of course, there were some problems to overcome: it required a European editorial board, European authors, and European distribution. The first need was met by asking Martin Killias (Lausanne) and Lode Walgrave (Leuven, Belgium) to join Dutch colleagues Gerben Bruinsma (University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands) and Henk van de Bunt (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands). It was decided that the journal, titled European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, would be in English only (quite a decision in those days). The authors were recruited from the growing network of international relations. They were invited to contribute to a thematic issue (with almost never a refusal to accept the manuscript), and there was some copy editing by an editorial assistant (Adrienne Baars). Starting in March 1993, the journal was published four times a year, with each issue having a theme-related illustration on the cover. During the first years, the journal was published by Kugler, a small publisher of so-called “abstract journals” in criminology. After some years, the journal was transferred to Kluwer Academic Publishers, which is now part of Springer Press.
In 2004, Ernesto Savona took over as editor and—as the saying goes—the rest is history. In looking back, it may be argued that we can claim that the international colloquia at the end of the 1980s and the journal that the RDC published four times a year from 1990 onward created a breeding ground for the foundation of the European Society of Criminology.
A Founder of the European Society of Criminology1
In 2000, together with several European colleagues, Josine took the initiative to establish the European Society of Criminology. This was a crucial turning point for European criminology. Now, some 13 years later, it is hard to imagine that the ESC is of such relative recent origin. The annual meetings, the newsletter, the working groups (Josine was a member of the Working Group on Juvenile Justice) have become part and parcel of the European community of crime and deviance scholars. Josine, in her usual hands-on approach, spent many hours and days planning the very first ESC meeting in Lausanne. That first meeting, including a boat ride on the lake at night, was very successful and set a high bar for subsequent meetings.
Josine Junger-Tas was the second ESC president (presiding 2001–2002). In the words of Miklos Levay, the past ESC president, Josine “transformed the organization, operation and atmosphere of the ESC….it is clear that Josine Junger-Tas was very much aware of the requirements of development of the Society, and her efforts are detectable in the everyday life and activity of our organization” (2011, 3). In the very first ESC newsletter, in her first message as ESC president (Junger-Tas 2002a), she emphasized the importance of the democratic functioning of the ESC. This message also included the formation of working groups based on the decision of the executive board. The fact that there are now 14 ESC working groups proves how right she was by proposing the working groups be formed defined by subject and not by discipline. Josine regarded it as a priority to include young criminologists in the Society. It is symbolic that the Students’ Paper Award, which was a predecessor of the Young Criminologist Award, was introduced during her presidency. All of her actions as president demonstrated her dedication to form a Society that is not only a forum to present research findings but also produces to findings through the collaborative research of members.
Josine regarded the ESC as a catalyst of the development of European criminology independent from American traditions. Her third presidential message, titled My Hopes for the Future of Criminology in Europe, discusses the most important steps to achieve this goal. It mentions as a priority that the ESC methodically supports empirical research. Taking the multidisciplinary nature of criminology into consideration, she thought that the enrichment of university curricula is extremely important. She called for changes in four areas of European criminology curricula: (i) there should be more room for quantitative and qualitative research methods at the expense of legal courses; (ii) more attention should be given to get to know the actual working methods of the police and criminal justice; (iii) it should be ensured that students are aware of how their research findings are used and misused by certain authorities; (iv) western-European universities should furthermore be obligated to offer special courses for students form Central and Eastern Europe (Junger-Tas 2002b).2
Importantly, she envisioned the development of the ESC based on European principles, namely: “…those of the Enlightenment—emphasizing reason, empiricism, and human rights—and those of social care and support for the losers in our society.”3 These words completely capture Josine’s approach to criminology (as will be discussed in the later sections on compassionate criminology). Attesting to the importance of the ESC in Josine’s career, in her speech at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the ESC in Ljubljana, Slovenia, given on the occasion of winning the European Criminology Award, she called the award “the top prize of my career” (Junger-Tas 2009)
A Policy-oriented Criminologist with an International Perspective
One of the Early Believers in Comparative Work
Almost from the very beginnings of her career, Josine published in Dutch, French, Belgian, and German outlets, often explaining how the Dutch system of (juvenile) justice fit (i.e., is different or similar to other nations) within an international context (e.g., Junger-Tas (1980c, 1984a, c). From the onset, she was interested in empirical research focusing on youth (see her dissertation: Characteristics and Social Integration of Juvenile Delinquents). [Later, when she was director at the WODC, she also instituted at the WODC the first self-reported delinquency survey in The Netherlands (which by now has become a regular feature).] She soon combined her empirical orientation with the added value of a comparative or cross-national perspective. Although it is hard to conclude retrospectively who or what shaped her interests and vision, she herself often identified the influence of Malcolm Klein, an American researcher most known for his work on self-reported surveys of youth delinquency and gangs, as an inspiring colleague through his combination of self-report methodology with cross-national research. In 1988, Klein cohosted a workshop in The Netherlands, sponsored by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), titled “Self-Report Methodology in Criminological Research,” in which some 40 scholars participated (Klein 1989). This workshop was cosponsored by the WODC, at the time headed by Jan van Dijk. The participants represented 15 nations, and the focus was on a discussion of the possibility to develop an internationally standardized self-report survey to measure delinquency. This NATO workshop became the launching pad for the International Self-Report Study of Delinquency (ISRD), sponsored initially by the WODC. In Josine’s own words: “the ISRD was created in 1990 when a number of researchers, representing 13—mainly European—countries, came together to decide on conducting...a study and to develop a common methodology” (Junger-Tas. et al. 2003, 4). A working group of researchers from six government centers and seven universities developed a common questionnaire and a research protocol aimed at achieving a comparable way of measuring self-reported delinquency among youth in participating countries. In 1994, a first book was published, containing the reports of the 13 participating countries (Junger-Tas et al. 1994), followed in 2003 with a book reporting on the analysis of the integrated data base (Junger-Tas. et al. 2003).
The first ISRD (ISRD-1) was reimagined later as the pilot for the second study (ISRD-2), a much expanded project in which more than 30 countries collaborated. Data for ISRD-2 were collected between 2005 and 2007. Several publications have followed (Junger-Tas et al. 2010; Enzmann et al. 2010), the most recent one being The Many Faces of Youth Crime: Comparing and Contrasting Theoretical Perspectives on Youth Crime, which was published after her death. The success of ISRD-2 inspired Josine and other colleagues to continue to build on the foundations and to prepare a third ISRD study, using a partly modified questionnaire allowing the testing of theories such as Institutional Anomie Theory, Procedural Justice Theory, and Situational Action Theory. Sadly, Josine was unable to witness to beginning of the field work for ISRD-3, which took place in September 2012. Josine’s leadership in the ISRD project reflected her typical vision of international collaboration: always trying to work from the bottom up (i.e., all participants should have input), ensuring that everybody has a true stake in the project. Here, as was true for her vision of the ESC, she truly believed in a democratic approach to collaboration.
The ISRD combined Josine’s enthusiasm for empirical research on youth, the value-added contributions of comparative work, with the methodology of self-report, on which she was considered an international expert (see Junger-Tas. and Haen-Marshall 1999). However, there were many other comparative or international research and academic projects in which Josine participated. As far back as 1983, she contributed a chapter on Dutch criminology to the well-known American publication Crime and Justice, edited by Tonry and Morris (1983c). Interestingly, many years later, she coauthored a follow-up article on the very same topic in the same publication (Junger-Tas and Junger 2007). In addition, she coauthored several important comparative volumes on juvenile justice and juvenile delinquency. Most recently, for example, The Handbook of International Juvenile Justice, together with American criminologist Scott Decker (2006); and Reforming Juvenile Justice, with her German colleague Frieder Dünkel (2009).
Criminology Must be Relevant to Policy
As I see it, the social sciences, including criminology, have a second fundamental mission besides realization of their ambition to conduct fundamental research and advance scientific knowledge. That mission is to make a contribution, however small, to achieving a somewhat fairer, more humane, and more rational society. It is absolutely necessary in contemporary society that researchers attempt to inform the development of policy. The use of reason – manifested in research – will lead to a better, clearer relationship between the ends and means of policy (Junger-Tas 2009).
Governmental agencies determine research priorities and try to fund research only on those practical problems they want to solve (e.g., research on drugs, crime & terrorism), thus keeping researchers away from more urgent problems.
Researchers who interact closely with authorities run the risk of losing critical distance by identifying themselves too closely with the government’s political problems and priorities.
Some researchers react to the need of political agencies for easy communicable results and to their wish not to be confronted with the failure of policy measures by purging their own reports from meaningful content, resulting in meaningless recommendations.
Research may be misused by politicians as a pretext for delaying the solution of problems that involve difficult political decisions.
As Dirk Enzmann concluded in his presentation at the Vilnius ESC conference commemorating Josine (2011),5 she was able to combine a strong commitment to policy-relevant research, with an explicit and strong grounding in a moral belief that it is one’s duty to do what is right. Although Josine has written about many topics (e.g., police, prisons, crime trends, survey methodology, human rights, evaluation programs, social welfare, family policy), her passion was first and foremost for youth and youth problems. She argued that we need to invest in prevention, rather than treatment, and that we need to have theoretical insights that may guide our prevention efforts; so was her belief. In the categorization made by the sociologist Burawoy (2005), Josine was able to integrate professional criminology (i.e., she believed in the proper use of method and theory), policy criminology (evidence-based and applied sociology), and public criminology (one needs to have a civic engagement).
A Compassionate Criminologist
Indeed, in the parlance of today, Josine Junger-Tas could be viewed as a public criminologist. She was not afraid to speak her mind. As her obituary in the NRC (the leading Dutch newspaper) states: “Professor Junger-Tas was very concerned with the fate of children and youth with problems…and she was very bothered by how Dutch police and social welfare agencies over the last several years started to control children and youth.” The NRC article explains how Josine characterized the collection of DNA materials of minors as “nonsense and objectionable”; the removal of children from their homes because the parents are not up to their task as “damaging”; and the systematic compiling of records of all children (with their risk factors, or parental unemployment, or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) as “counter-productive.” She was a fervent and compassionate believer in prevention rather than punishment, and she often spoke out publicly against the more repressive and hard-line youth policies that emerged in The Netherlands over the last decade. In radio and television interviews as well as in printed media, she questioned the “hype” about alleged rising crime rates, and she never hesitated to express her indignation about the increasing repressive nature of youth policy.
In the special session organized to pay tribute to Josine at the 2011 Vilnius ESC conference, Enzmann, in his talk “Points of view and the value of values in scientific criminology,” documented how Josine acted as a scientific researcher striving for objectivity while at the same time adhering to humanistic convictions. In his view, Josine taught us the necessity of values to keep up one’s course in times of paradigm shifts toward punitivity; how adherence to basic values can coexist with the pursuit of “value-free” research and objectivity in science—a necessity if we want criminology to have an impact on criminal policy. In a discipline in which there is increasing tension between the demand and call for accountability and social responsibility, Josine’s view on the role of criminologists may be best captured by the concept of compassionate criminology.
Compassionate criminology does not only mean that one speaks one’s mind (publicly), but also that one has true empathy for the suffering of others. Although we are usually reluctant to refer to Wikipedia as a reliable reference source, in this particular instance, we gladly accept that “Compassion is a cornerstone of greater social interconnection and humanism” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compassion). Compassionate criminology should never be confused with moralizing criminology, an approach that Josine detested outright. “Compassion is the basis of all morality,” said the nineteenth century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. Unlike Schopenhauer, Josine believed in the role of reason and science to create a better future, but she combined this with a firm grounding in the need for empathy for the most vulnerable in society. And that is what compassionate criminology is all about.
Introduction to the Articles in this Issue
The articles in this special issue have been selected because they represent, in one way or another, key aspects of Josine Junger-Tas’s contributions to the discipline. We believe that as a public criminologist, Junger-Tas’s main heritage lies in drawing the contours of what may be called evidence-based compassionate criminology. Considering Josine’s extensive network of international colleagues and friends familiar with her work, the issue easily could have been double or triple its size. In order to provide a more complete overview of her work, we therefore included, at the end of this introduction, an overview of (most) of Josine’s publications. This bibliography may be missing a number of papers, as Josine notoriously was rather nonchalant when it came to keeping track of all the work she produced.
The first article, by Michael Tonry, provides a perfect opening for this special issue. He discusses how Josine’s distinctive form of compassionate criminology is a point of view, a way of looking at the world, “predicated on the belief that individual human beings matter, and always matter, and that the only ethical way to think about policies and practices is in terms of their implications for individuals and the lives that they have led or potentially can lead.” Tonry uses Josine’s contributions to Crime and Justice: A Review of Research to show that Josine’s compassion “reveals itself in the subjects of her work, in her sympathies for the distressed, and in her efforts always to place things in rich human contexts of time, place, and history.”
The second article, by Michael Gottfredson, on the role of basic theory in thinking about crime prevention, speaks to Josine’s firm belief in the connection between basic theory and delinquency prevention policies. All who are familiar with Josine’s empirical work, as well as her policy suggestions with regard to youth, know that the different variants of social control theory (with their focus on the importance of the family) played a crucial role. As Gottfredson argues convincingly, recent research appears consistent with control-theory expectations and with Josine’s view for a role for basic science for juvenile policy.
In a third article, Majone Steketee and her colleagues compare the implementation and adoption of Communities that Care (CtC), a community-based prevention system to prevent adolescent drug use and delinquency in The Netherlands and the US. Consistent with her belief in evidence-based policy and her international perspective, Josine introduced the CtC prevention system in The Netherlands in 1999. This article demonstrates both contributions and challenges of the international transfer of crime policies.
The fourth article, by Josine’s daughter, Marianne, and her colleagues, approaches the role of the family in crime prevention from the perspective of the intergenerational transmission of delinquency. They analyze the police records of the family members of a cohort of Dutch individuals and conclude that arrests of family members constitute a major risk factor for poor developmental outcomes, such as criminal behavior. Marianne Junger and colleagues conclude that an early, evidence-based intervention strategies prevent these children from repeating the mistakes of their predecessors, based on these and others’ findings that families evidencing criminal involvement often yield children at-risk of criminality.
The last three articles (Farrington et al., Gatti at al., Kapardis) in this special issue all speak to Josine Junger-Tas’s enthusiasm for the method of self-report surveys as a credible alternative to the use of official crime records. Josine was a pragmatist in many ways, but she did insist that it was important to conduct self-report surveys in the most careful ways possible, including testing the validity and reliability of this method. The congruence between self-reported offending with official records of convictions is the focus of David Farrington and colleagues’ contribution in this issue. Based on analysis of data from the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development, where over 400 London males have been followed up from age 8 to age 48 in face-to-face interviews and up to age 56 in criminal records, they conclude that convicted males self-reported 25 offenses per conviction on average, and therefore, the “scaling-up factor” from convictions to self-reported offenses is very important, especially in evaluating the effectiveness of intervention programs. The articles by Gatti and colleagues and Kapardis are based on data collected as part of the ISRD-2. The Gatti article focuses on data collected among 25 European nations to determine the link between alcohol consumption and delinquency, as well as the role of belonging to a youth gang. Recognizing the complexity of social reality, they conclude that the associations between alcohol use and delinquency are reciprocal rather than one-directional: Whereas alcohol use constitutes a risk factor for criminal behavior, involvement in delinquency increase the risk of alcohol consumption and, especially, alcohol abuse. This analysis implies clear implications for prevention at the level of national and local alcohol policy. Concern with delinquency prevention is also part of the contribution by Andreas Kapardis in his paper in this issue that focuses on Cyprus, as well as the ISRD-2 results on the (capitals of) the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovenia.6 Kapardis writes in his introduction that Josine was the “catalyst which made it all possible.” That is, apart from the substantive and methodological contributions that Josine has made to the ISRD project, it is evident that she had a crucial role in getting this complex international collaborative project off the ground. We think it fitting to conclude with Kapardis’s words: “ inspirational, she infused us with enthusiasm about the project and dealt with any disagreements in a very constructive way. A very caring social scientist and a committed reformer who led her team by example. In a nutshell, a very charismatic person and scholar I am grateful I had the opportunity to work with.” Indeed, a good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.
This section is largely based on the Message from the President, Miklos Levay, published in the ESC Newsletter, Criminology in Europe, 2011/1, Vol. 10, pp 3–4 www.escnewsletter.org
Regarding this last point, it should be mentioned that during Josine’s presidency, a special fellowship program was set up by the board to enable researchers from central and eastern Europe to participate at the annual meetings of the ESC.
These points are taken from the paper presented by Dirk Enzmann (Points of View and the Value of Values in Scientific Criminology) in the memorial session on Josine Junger-Tas’s work at the ESC conference in Vilnius, 2011.
These 6 countries (which joined the European Union in 2004) received support from a Daphne grant to participate in the ISRD-2. This grant was written and administered by the Verwey-Jonker Institute in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
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A Selection from Josine Junger-Tas’s Publications
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- Junger-Tas, J. (1981d). Community service en dienstverlening: een kritische beschouwing (Community service and service provision), Delikt en Delinkwent, 11(1).Google Scholar
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- Junger-Tas, J. (1983c). Intermediate treatment - een nieuwe vorm van ambulante hulpverlening (Intermediate treatment - a new form of ambulatory assistance), Proces, no.4.Google Scholar
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