By Lawanna Barron, Family Advocacy outreach manager
/ Published April 04, 2011
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- When children are abused, it impacts the entire community. With April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we have an opportunity to increase awareness about the impact of child abuse and ways to prevent it from occurring.
Child fatalities are the most tragic consequence of maltreatment. In 2009, there were 1, 770 children in the United States who died from child abuse and neglect.
This year's theme is "Resiliency strengthens children, families and communities." Resiliency is the ability to recover or stand back up when knocked down. When children are abused, it is our responsibility to report the abuse and to ensure children are protected.
According to Air Force Instruction 40-301, "Family Advocacy," all active duty members and civilian employees of the Air Force will report all incidence of suspected family maltreatment to the Family Advocacy Program.
The state of Georgia mandates reporting of child abuse to the local Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS). The Moody AFB Family Advocacy Program has a memorandum of understanding with local DFCS agencies to report all suspected cases of child abuse.
According to the 2009 National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System of the Children's Bureau, there were an estimated 3.3 million referrals, involving maltreatment of approximately 6.0 million children, received by Child Protection Agencies such as DFCS.
Forms of child abuse include physical, sexual, emotional and child neglect. Child physical abuse occurs when a child has experienced physical injury other than by accidental means by a parent or a caretaker. Most often, it occurs when parents punish a child through physical force and leave marks or bruises. Other examples include burning, kicking, biting and hitting with other objects.
Child sexual abuse includes indecent exposure or any other sexual act performed with or in a child's presence, including the use of a child for prostitution or the production of child pornography.
Child sexual abuse can occur when a parent or caretaker willfully fails to make a reasonable effort to stop sexual abuse of child by another person. Also, child sexual abuse can occur if a person who is of age of sexual consent has sex with a minor child who is not of age of sexual consent.
Child emotional abuse includes verbal assaults, name calling, constant belittling, criticizing, insulting, making threats, ignoring the child, failing to provide psychological nurturing, providing no love, support or guidance or exposing the child to constant family conflict. Child maltreatment and abuse includes circumstances that injures a child's healthy well-being, including witnessing domestic violence.
Child neglect is the most common form of child abuse. Neglect is the failure to provide for a child's physical necessities or risk of harm to the child's health and safety. Examples of neglect include poor physical hygiene, inability to meet basic clothing needs of a child, derivation or lack of adequate nutrition, lack of shelter, lack of medical or dental care, lack of supervision or abandonment and school truancy.
There are several ways we can protect our children and build resiliency. They include:
- Immediately Report any suspicion of child abuse to the Family Advocacy office
- Volunteer with local programs such as the Youth Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Boys and Girls Programs.
- Attend and recommend parenting classes such as 1-2-3 Magic, Common Sense Parenting and Active Parenting of Teens. For newly expecting parents, recommend services through the New Parent Support Program such as Great Expectations and Dads 101.
- Remind every parent to never shake a baby
- Assist a friend, relative or neighbor who may be under stress by taking over their chores so they can spend more time with their children or give them a break from their children.
- Understand that parents get stressed and sometimes need help. Recognize the signs of feeling overwhelmed, sad, angry and out of control. Know it is okay to ask for help.
There are also many resources from agencies of the Integrated Delivery System that can help. These include the Family Advocacy Program, Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment, Drug Demand Reduction, Airman and Family Readiness, Chapel, Child Development Center, Youth Program, Family Child Care, school liaison officer, Exceptional Family Member Program, Moody Spouses Club, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, and Equal Opportunity. Other resources are available through the Military Family Life Consultants and Military OneSource.
Moody Air Force Base is known for its enormous global contributions in protecting the United States of America. We must continue to work together to protect our children and build resiliency.
To report a suspicion of child abuse or partner abuse and receive information on prevention programs, please call the Family Advocacy Office at 229-257-4805. Family Advocacy is located in the 23rd Medical Group across the hall from the Dental Clinic.