Prevention: Stuttgart's ACS drives activities for April's Child Abuse, Sexual Assault Prev
April 4, 2011
STUTTGART, Germany -- The total well-being of service members and their families is critical to the military community, and preventing abuse is one of many ways that Army Community Service is seeking to improve quality of life in U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart.
ACS will host a variety of programs in April, which is both Sexual Assault Prevention Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month, to promote education and awareness on similar services offered year-round.
SEXUAL ASSAULT PREVENTION
According to the Defense Department's Sexual Assault Statistical Report for fiscal year 2010, there were 1,390 unrestricted reports and 299 restricted reports of sexual assault in the Army during FY2010, an eight percent decrease from FY09. However, only 33 percent of service members have a propensity to report assault, the report states.
"This is obviously an issue. We see that DOD-wide. We see that world-wide," said Mariana Graupmann, the contracted victim advocate coordinator for the garrison.
In USAG Stuttgart, there are very few reports of sexual assault, said Graupmann, who handles reports for adults ages 18 and over. However, one instance of assault is one too many.
"Our numbers are low here, but that doesn't mean that nothing's happening," she said.
To heighten community awareness of sexual assault, ACS will host a "Denim Day," event April 27, in which community members support sexual assault victims by wearing jeans. Denim Day originated in protest to a 1999 Italian High Court decision to overturn a rape charge because the victim was wearing tight jeans, which the court stated could not have been removed without the victim's help.
"As a community, we're getting an opportunity to talk about sexual assault and raise awareness on that day," Graupmann said.
The community event builds on the annual sexual assault prevention training Graupmann provides to service members. The training defines sexual assault and describes the different types of reporting available to victims. It also focuses on bystander intervention.
"Even if they themselves aren't the victim, they will know someone who is," Graupmann said. The training focuses on "being able to identify high-risk behavior [and] knowing what sexual assault is, so that you can intervene."
ACS also provides youth-oriented training throughout the year.
Joneila Henselman, ACS Family Advocacy Program educator, conducts a teen dating violence program for Stuttgart middle and high school students.
"It's great that they have the opportunity to reflect on healthy relationships and say, 'Yea, that's what I want to be a part of -- that's what I want to actively look for,'" Henselman said.
She also presents puppet shows on sexual assault and child abuse -- along with other topics --throughout the year to children in kindergarten to third grade, using life-size "Kids on the Block" puppets.
The puppets illustrate themes that can be hard for children to understand, such as the difference between a "good touch" and a "bad touch," Henselman said.
"Our children need to be aware that there's support and that there are answers to problems," she added. "They never have to be a victim."
CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION
ACS also provides a variety of classes and programs to identify and help eliminate child abuse in the Stuttgart military community.
"The key to prevent of child abuse is education and services offered to military parents," said Monica Sadler, USAG Stuttgart ACS Family Advocacy Program manager.
Many factors contribute to child abuse, she added. These include the pressures of daily life, attitudes towards violence, isolation from family and friends and family background, to name a few.
ACS classes can help parents avoid becoming statistics, she said.
"One of our most important programs designed to reduce child abuse in the military is the New Parent Support Program," Sadler said. "The program offers classes to moms and dads, as well as home visitation."
The ACS Family Advocacy Program also offers "Managing Your Emotions" classes on anger management and a series of "Love and Logic" classes for parents. "It is very important to have both parents participate in the program to learn good parenting skills," she added.
Child abuse is not always at the hands of the parent. In addition to family classes, ACS provides child abuse prevention classes to caregivers, including Family Child Care providers, sports coaches and Child, Youth and School Services employees.