Stand up for children...there's no excuse for child abuse

U.S. Air Force Col. Chad Franks, 23d Wing commander, helps paint a child abuse awareness poster with Child Development Center children of military service members April 9, 2014, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The poster was donated by the 23d Civil Engineer Squadron.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Dillian Bamman/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Chad Franks, 23d Wing commander, helps paint a child abuse awareness poster with Child Development Center children of military service members April 9, 2014, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The poster was donated by the 23d Civil Engineer Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Dillian Bamman/Released)

Laura Kelly, Child Development Center caregiver, paints the hands of a Moody child for Child Abuse Prevention Month on April 9, 2014, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. If anyone suspects potential child abuse, Moody has many programs available for assistance, including the Family Advocacy Program, Airman and Family Readiness Center, Youth Center and Moody Chapel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Dillian Bamman/Released)

Laura Kelly, Child Development Center caregiver, paints the hands of a Moody child for Child Abuse Prevention Month on April 9, 2014, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. If anyone suspects potential child abuse, Moody has many programs available for assistance, including the Family Advocacy Program, Airman and Family Readiness Center, Youth Center and Moody Chapel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Dillian Bamman/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Chad Franks, 23d Wing commander, signs a Child Abuse Prevention Proclamation April 9, 2014, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month raises awareness to Moody and the community on ways to put an end to child abuse. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Dillian Bamman/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Chad Franks, 23d Wing commander, signs a Child Abuse Prevention Proclamation April 9, 2014, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month raises awareness to Moody and the community on ways to put an end to child abuse. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Dillian Bamman/Released)

Kim Franks, wife of U.S. Air Force Col. Chad Franks, 23d Wing commander, reads a story to Child Development Center children at a Child Abuse Prevention proclamation signing April 9, 2014, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Mrs. Franks read to the children after they finished hand painting a child abuse awareness poster with Col. Franks.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Dillian Bamman/Released)

Kim Franks, wife of U.S. Air Force Col. Chad Franks, 23d Wing commander, reads a story to Child Development Center children at a Child Abuse Prevention proclamation signing April 9, 2014, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Mrs. Franks read to the children after they finished hand painting a child abuse awareness poster with Col. Franks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Dillian Bamman/Released)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- April is designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Communities across the country have recognized that everyone can participate in efforts to eliminate this serious threat to children. During this month, the Department of Defense, schools, businesses, hospitals, religious organizations, social service agencies and individuals have joined forces to promote the message there is no excuse for child abuse.

According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), in 2012 an estimated 1,640 children died from abuse and neglect. This is a rate of 2.20 children per 100,000 children in the national population. Nationally, four-fifths (78.3%) of victims were neglected, 18.3 percent were physically abused, 9.3 percent were sexually abused and 8.5 percent were psychologically maltreated.

Our military children epitomize resilience and deal with enormous stressors; therefore, we must stand and ensure they are protected. The Moody AFB Family Advocacy Program offers the following suggestions about ways you can stand up for military children and prevent child abuse.

Report suspected abuse or neglect:

Protecting children requires everyone to report suspected abuse or neglect. Forms of child abuse include physical, emotional, sexual and neglect. AFI 40-301, Family Advocacy, requires all active duty members and civilians to report any suspicion of child or partner maltreatment to the Family Advocacy Officer. The Family Advocacy Program is located in the 23d Medical Group and can be reached at 229-257-4805.

Help parents in our community: 

At Moody AFB, we should plan activities and times when parents can get together to talk about and find solutions to parenting challenges. There are many family focused programs such as the Family Advocacy Program, Airman and Family Readiness Center, the Youth Center and the Moody Chapel that can be of assistance. If you know a parent who is stressed, offer him or her a break. Attending the Moody AFB Family Connection Playgroup each Friday morning from 10:00 am - 11:30 pm at the Fitness Center Annex can benefit both children under the age of 4 and their parents.

Respond when you see stressful behaviors in public:

Strike up a conversation with the adult to direct the parent's attention away from the child. Say something comforting like "It looks like it has been a long day for both of you." Praise the child and parent at the first opportunity. Divert the child's attention (if misbehaving) by talking to the child.

Examine your own parenting practices:

Recognize that you are the most important person in your child's life. What you say to them and how you treat them determines how they feel about themself. Offer them honest praise at every opportunity. When you're feeling troubled or lonely, and when pressures build up, don't lash out at your child. Stop and take a deep breath. Remember you are the adult. Close your eyes and pretend you're hearing what your child is about to hear.

If you think you need help, you're not alone. Being a parent is not easy for anyone, and sometimes it is very hard. Take the first step. Reach out for help by attending classes offered by Family Advocacy which includes 1-2-3 Magic, Love and Logic, Common Sense Parenting, Active Parenting of Teens, Stress Management, Anger Management, Fearless Marriage and Crossroads to Parenting and Divorce.

Information for this article was obtained from the NCANDS with contributions from Moody's Family Advocacy Program.