Cherish Our Children: April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

  • Published
  • By Lawanna Barron
  • 23d Medical Operation Squadron Family Advocacy Outreach Manager
April is designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month across the United States and also within the Department of Defense. 

During this month, we have an opportunity to increase awareness about the negative impact of child abuse and ways to prevent it from occurring. When children are abused, it impacts the entire community and rightfully so this year's theme is "Cherish Our Children." 

According to Air Force Instruction 40-301, "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 Moody Air Force Base Family Advocacy Program has a memorandum of understanding with local Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) agencies to report all suspected cases of child abuse.  Additionally, the State of Georgia has mandated mandatory reporting of child abuse to the local DFCS.  

According to Centers for Disease Control in 2012, the United States local and state child protective services (CPS) received approximately 3.4 million referrals of abused or neglected children. CPS estimated that of those referrals, 686,000 children (9.2 per 1,000) were victims of maltreatment. The types of maltreatment percentage among the children varied, 78 percent were victims of neglect; 18 percent of physical abuse; 9 percent of sexual abuse; and 11 percent were victims of other types of maltreatment, including emotional and threatened abuse, parent's drug and/or alcohol abuse, or lack of supervision.

In light of the number of child victims in 2012, an estimated 1,640 children died from child maltreatment (rate of 2.2 per 100,000 children). Of the children who died from maltreatment in 2012, 70 percent experienced neglect and 44 percent experienced physical abuse either exclusively or in combination with another form of maltreatment. Of child maltreatment fatalities in 2012, 70 percent occurred among children younger than three years old.

Child abuse can come in many forms including 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 in a child's presence, external touching of a child's private parts, oral copulation with a child, any type of penetration, sexual 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 a 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 who is not of age of sexual consent.   Online sexual predators have also increased during the digital age of technology.

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, deprivation or lack of adequate nutrition, lack of shelter, lack of medical or dental care, lack of supervision or abandonment, and school truancy. 

Every day is a reminder to 'cherish our children.'  It's up to us to ensure they are safe and protected. To do your part and report a suspicion of child abuse or partner abuse and receive information on prevention programs, please call the Family Advocacy Office at 257-4805.  Family Advocacy is located inside the 23d Medical Group.