April is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention month

Catherine Little
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

April is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month. The U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern’s Army Community Service and Family Advocacy Program would like to take this opportunity to continue to educate the KMC about child abuse and the devastating impact it has on the lives of children.

In today’s environment, with the stress of deployment and family separations in all our communities, protecting the well-being of children is a particularly critical challenge. The first and most important line of defense for children is their families. Resilient parents and relatives are indispensable in the lives of children, particularly in stressful situations.

Making families and installations a protective and nurturing place for children is to first understand that child abuse is contrary to the values and standards of the U.S. Army.

It also involves a clear understanding of what child abuse is. Based on Army Regulation 608-18, Family Advocacy Program, child abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, and also includes child neglect.

Physical abuse is any physical harm, mistreatment or injury to a child and includes such acts as grabbing, slapping, choking, punching, kicking, throwing, hitting with an object (such as a belt or electrical cord). Other acts that may cause brain injury and damage, skull or bone fractures, burns, bruises or welts are also forms of child physical abuse. Physical abuse accounts for nearly 25 percent of all reported cases of child abuse and results in thousands of deaths each year, most often in children under the age of three-years-old.

Emotional abuse involves acts or omissions, or a pattern of such acts that may have an adverse affect on the child’s psychological and emotional well-being. These acts can range from name calling, belittling and teasing, which damages a child’s self esteem, to a threat, which causes a child to have an automatic reflective avoidance of the adult. Sexual abuse is any sexual activity with a child for the purpose of sexual gratification.

The most common form of child abuse is child neglect. Child neglect accounts for nearly 60 percent of all child abuse cases. Child neglect occurs when a child is deprived of needed age-appropriate care either by acts or omissions of the parent or caregiver.

It includes medical and educational neglect, abandonment, and the deprivation of necessities such as proper clothing, shelter or food, and lack of supervision.

Every family should be aware of the supervision guidelines that provide guidance on the level of adult supervision needed for children based on their grade in school. For example, children in the fifth grade and below may not be left home alone. Unsanitary housing condition also meets the criteria for child neglect.

Children affected by child abuse may exhibit low self-esteem, suicidal ideas, learning difficulties, and behavioral problems. Army regulations require every Soldier, employee and family member in the KMC to report suspected cases of child abuse.

The community can make a positive impact in the lives of children at a time when they need help the most. Together, we can stop the abuse of children in our community.

The Kaiserslautern garrison’s ACS and FAP offer an array of prevention services to assist families before a stressful situation becomes a child abuse situation. In addition to providing informative briefings to commands and the community, ACS offers stress management, anger management, parenting class for parents with children under the age of 12, and a “connecting with teens” parenting class.

Throughout the month of April, the garrison will offer a weekly lunch-and-learn series on topics such as the challenges of single parenting, effective discipline, building your child’s self esteem, and communicating with your children – the five love languages.

The community can also visit the ACS’s information booth 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 6 in front of the Post Exchange on Vogelweh and April 20 in front of the dining facility in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. At both of these locations, the KMC’s supervision guidelines will be available.

For more information on how to schedule a child abuse unit briefing or to participate in prevention classes, visit the Family Advocacy Program in Bldg. 2919 on Pulaski Barracks, or call 489-6511 or 0631-536-6511 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.