For the Western world, the concept of children's play in Romania toward the end of the 20th century was dominated by images of discrimination, neglect, and abuse. By organizing projects to respond to those images, we have at the same time learned some very useful lessons about the significance of play in child development. In 1989 with the overthrow of the communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, the world had its first graphic introduction to child abuse on a grand scale. In the years immediately following the revolution, the Western media gained access to Romania for the first time and began to discover the full horror of its state-run institutions, where more than 100,000 children lived. In the most extreme cases, children were tied in their cots for days on end and so grew up starved of the sort of basic developmental opportunities most of us take for granted. Images of malnourished ...