FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- When it comes to abuse, finding a voice can be difficult, especially for children, and that's why Fort Rucker made a pledge to bring child abuse prevention to the forefront.

Col. Brian E. Walsh, Fort Rucker garrison commander, in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month and Month of the Military Child, signed a proclamation during a ceremony in the atrium of Bldg. 5700 April 4 to pledge his and the installation's commitment to ending child abuse.

"Child abuse is never OK," read the proclamation. "No one deserves to be abused, and anyone can be a victim. Anytime an Army family member suffers from abuse, we fall short for our goals for readiness.

"I'm calling on all of us -- military and civilian, parents and nonparents -- to unite for a common goal -- to end child abuse," the proclamation continues. "We must make a commitment to this prevention effort in partnership with the family advocacy program here at Fort Rucker. Children are the future of our nation. It is our job to make sure that they grow up with a strong support system."

This year's theme for the prevention month is "Strong Communities Strengthen Families," and along the lines of the theme, Walsh said it's up to parents to make sure those within the community, especially children, feel safe.

"Children should always feel safe and live in a home free from fear, and they should be secure and understand that they have potential to grow both physically and emotionally," said the garrison commander during the ceremony. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention simply states that safe, stable and nurturing relationships and environments between children and their caregivers provide a definitive buffer against the effects of potential stressors."

Walsh also offered up three key points to help build stronger communities: be informed, be attentive and be supportive.

"Be informed -- that's the first thing," he said. "Stay ahead and build your parenting skills. Be attentive. If you see something, say something, or attempt to help.

"(Lastly), be supportive," he continued. "Caring words and small actions certainly make a big difference, and they make a difference in the community."

Oftentimes, parenting can be a tough job, said Walsh, and for that reason, Fort Rucker provides ways to help parents get through difficult situations, including the Army Community Service Family Advocacy Program and New Parent Support Program.

"The family advocacy program is a wonderful program," said the garrison commander. "Learn and get knowledge from them, and see what they have to offer -- it's there for you -- and it is a positive thing that makes our families stronger, and therefore our communities stronger."

Although April is designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month, Walsh said it's not something that should be thought of only one month out of the year.

"Child abuse prevention is not a one-month assignment. It goes on every day of every year. Without every one of us doing our part, we cannot say our Army is fully ready to build a strong and resilient community," he said. "Parents are our children's first teachers, and children learn mutual respect and how to treat other's through the example that our parents set."

For more information on family advocacy, call 255-3898. For more information on the new parent support program, call 255-9647.