April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

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Since 1983, April has been dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect through the observation of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The observance serves to educate parents and the community about warning signs and helpful resources, and to reinforce that the safety and well-being of children is a shared community responsibility.

Military families are less likely than civilian families to be impacted by unemployment and poverty, drug abuse and limited access to healthcare. However, they are more likely to face unique risk factors, like intermittent single parenting due to military operations, frequent moves and separation from extended family.

Child neglect related to lack of supervision or exposure to physical hazards represents the largest percentage of child abuse among military families.

Within the military community, the Family Advocacy Program works to strengthen military families and promote parenting skills and resilience. Services include home visitation for new parents as well as support and education for parents of youth of all ages.

Everyone has a role to play in creating safe and healthy communities. It only takes a minute to look out for a child or reach out to a parent under stress. Helping resources are readily available. Child safety is everyone’s business. If you suspect child abuse, have the courage to report it to law enforcement, your installation Family Advocacy Program or the DOD Child Abuse and Safety Hotline at 877-790-1197. Your intervention could help a child at risk.

Protective factors are conditions that increase the health and well-being of children and buffer against child abuse and include:

•Knowledge of parenting and child development

•Parental resilience

•Social connections

•Concrete supports for parents

•Social and emotional competence of children