By U.S. ArmyApril 12, 2013
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson's Family Advocacy Program is currently campaigning to heighten community awareness and bring attention to national Child Abuse Prevention Month throughout the month of April.
"Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time (during which) we focus attention and make extra efforts to highlight the issues of abuse or maltreatment of children," said Greg Lewis, a Fort Jackson FAP specialist."This is a time when we highlight the fact that we as a community should promote the social and emotional well-being of our children."
FAP's campaign, an aggressive attempt to bring the child safety message to the community, includes scheduled child safety classes and Family Advocacy Program overviews at various organizations around the installation, as well as an effort to educate post children through "Project Read," in which FAP and Army Community Services personnel read and present safety classes to children at Child Youth and School Services facilities two or three times a week throughout April.
FAP has also recently initiated a series of classes through CYSS "reaching out to community teens in an effort to heighten their awareness of potential problematic issues, such as dating violence, sexting, and peer pressure," Lewis said.
Finally, FAP has distributed books, pamphlets and brochures around the installation in the hopes of raising awareness and sparking interest and concern for child abuse prevention.
"Child Abuse Prevention Month is significant to observe, because children are the leaders of our future," Lewis said. "The scars of abuse often go with our youth on into their adult years and establish a pattern for a revolving door of generational abuse. Imagine the significance of a world free of child abuse."
Lewis said the issue is important to highlight, particularly in the military arena, which can generate a significant amount of stress.
"Fort Jackson's training environment and the associated stress affects a significant number of community families," Lewis said. "Compounded by the normal stressors of family life -- or life in general -- some of these families may be more susceptible to conditions that could (lead to) child abuse."
There are a variety of resources available at Fort Jackson, designed to help Soldiers and families cope with the stressors of military and everyday life. ACS and FAP offer anger- and stress-management classes, New Parent Support Group activities, financial readiness training, domestic violence education services, and soon, Scream-Free Parenting classes.
FAP also provides child safety awareness classes for community members about recognizing and reporting child abuse. Lewis said Moncrief Army Community Hospital's Social Work Services and the installation Family Life Center are also good resources for Fort Jackson personnel who may be struggling with issues that could lead to child abuse.
Another ACS resource is an online stressmanagement class offered through Army OneSource, which is open to any Fort Jackson community member.
"This class teaches practical skills that can help decrease the stress in your life," said Veronica Jackson-Patrick, program manager for Army Family Team Building and Information and Referral Services. "Being a parent myself, I can speak to how stressful parenting can be -- any skills or tools that we have can help."
The class covers topics such as defining stress, understanding its physical and psychological effects, recognizing when you are under stress, and developing thinking strategies to help cope during stressful times -- skills that can help prevent stress from escalating into child abuse.
"Being a parent is rewarding, but it can be a challenging role," Jackson-Patrick said. "We don't have an all-inclusive parent handbook, so it helps to take advantage of the resources and learn what we can to be the best we can be."
Jackson-Patrick said there are other topics parents might find helpful through the online program, including conflict management, enhancing personal relationships, and effective communication. Whether it is learning how to cope with stress or learning how to recognize the signs of child abuse, there is something every member of the community can do to help prevent child abuse on Fort Jackson.
"There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child," Lewis said. "As a community, we can help prevent child abuse by coming together to watch out for our children and never turning a blind eye to actual or suspected child abuse.
"We have a role in building and maintaining a strong and resilient community, a community where our children are valued and supported," he said. "Children are our most precious resource and they rely on adults for safety and protection. We must challenge ourselves to keep them healthy, happy and safe."
To access the online stress-management class, register with www.myarmyonesource.com, click on the link to "online training" and enroll in the stress management module found under the AFTB Level II tab.