Military Connection: Protecting our Children


By Debbie Gregory.

April is observed by the Department of Defense (DoD) as the Month of the Military Child. It is also recognized as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

April was first declared Child Abuse Prevention Month by presidential proclamation in 1983. Since then, April has been a time to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse. The majority of child abuse cases stem from situations and conditions that can be prevented when community programs and systems are engaged and supportive.

To help parents provide a safe, healthy, nurturing environment, the DoD is taking an active approach in educating parents through military treatment facilities. Medical professionals are helping to meet the unique needs of military families.

The New Parent Support Program, available on most military installations, helps parents — including expectant parents — develop the skills they need to provide a nurturing environment for their children.

Other programs include the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, whose website offers tips and tools to help military and veteran parents during different stages of their children’s growth and development. Additionally, Military OneSource offers confidential, nonmedical counseling to assist parents in improved communication with their children, while also identifying any behavioral changes. Parents who return from deployments with visible or invisible injuries may particularly benefit from DoD and Military OneSource resources.

With officials seeking to eradicate the stigma behind abuse, including identifying and reporting the abuse, they are also seeking to promote communities’ greater familiarities with the National Child Abuse Hotline and other resources designed to help parents who may be struggling with appropriate nurturing and disciplinary roles with their children.

Barbara Thompson, director of the DoD’s Office of Family Readiness, stressed that anyone witnessing or suspecting red flags in potential cases of abuse are obligated to bring the concerns to light.

“We have a role, each and every one of us, to support children’s health and safety,” Thompson said. “Parenting is one of the hardest jobs and responsibilities that we’ll ever have, and the one that also has the most love.”

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Military Connection: Protecting our Children: By Debbie Gregory