FORT SAM HOUSTON, TEXAS (MARCH 29, 2016) -- "It takes all of us working together to prevent child abuse," said Lisa Stewart, the Family advocacy program manager at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
In April, Army leaders at all levels will emphasize the importance of safety and prevention methods as they join the nation in observing Child Abuse Prevention Month. Child abuse prevention campaigns will bring awareness to an issue that affects all community members.
This year's Department of Defense theme is "Child Safety to Prevent Child Neglect" with the tagline "Protect Our Children: Supervised, Safe and Sound."
"This theme resonates a clear, concise message emphasizing the importance of child abuse and neglect," said Lt. Col. Ricky J. Martinez, the Family advocacy program manager, for Headquarters, Department of the Army. "Neglect is often the most overlooked form of child abuse."
According to Martinez, the Army is committed to providing a full range of programs and services to facilitate in prevention. U.S. Army Installation Management Command programs such as the Family Advocacy Program, offer classes, seminars, workshops, counseling, intervention and treatment for service members and their Families.
"Families are provided confidential assistance and help from the moment of contact with one of the Army's providers," he said.
Installation FAP offices also work with entities such as local hospitals, state departments for child protective services, and national hotlines, to provide additional assistance to patrons.
At Fort Knox, Stewart and her staff members focus their efforts on educating community members on available resources.
"Sometimes, parents don't know where to get resources to prevent child abuse," she said. "Problems arise when needs are blocked. Knowing your resources and options can reduce stress."
The New Parent Support Program, a program within FAP, is designed to help new mothers and fathers manage the everyday demands of parenthood as well as stress, isolation and post-deployment reunions. Parents who are expecting a child or have children up to three years of age are eligible to participate in this program. Staff members provide supportive services, host classes and conduct home visits to assist new parents.
In 2015, over 23,500 home visits and over 28,200 workshops were conducted worldwide by FAP staff members, according to Martinez.
Martinez added that the intention is to build strong, resilient Families by teaching them good parenting skills and communication practices early on. As a result, less child abuse incidents will arise.
"These programs and services enhance Soldier and Family strength and resiliency," he said.
While child abuse prevention campaigns will be in the forefront in April, Martinez wants people to know that the Army is making yearlong efforts worldwide to end child abuse. Both Stewart and he believe that every community member is responsible in these efforts.
"If we get people to report, then we get victims the services they need," Stewart said. "By doing this, we can prevent further abuse, neglect or death."