FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. – The room was packed at Murr Community Center on Wednesday as representatives from several military and community agencies came together to rehearse the legal protocols and investigation of suspected child abuse cases.
The event organized by the Family Advocacy Program included officials from Team Huachuca partners, including the Directorate of Emergency Services, Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Army Criminal Investigation Division, Sierra Vista Police Department and the Arizona Department of Child Safety.
In attendance were also members of the Fort Huachuca Accommodation School District, the Religious Support Office and Child & Youth Services along with military commanders and senior leaders.
The group ran through four different scenarios involving various forms of suspected child abuse, including sexual abuse, child neglect, emotional abuse and physical abuse.
The discussion got more intense as the exercise continued, and the cases got more complex.
The third scenario was especially troubling to many of the participants. In it, a father was reported for abuse because he was observed berating and belittling his child.
“Let’s be honest,” said Greg Davidson, chief, Fort Huachuca Police. “Most of us have witnessed a scene like this, and instead of reporting it, most of us just pat ourselves on the back and think, ‘I’m glad that I am a better parent than that.’”
Capt. Lisa Bailey, chief, Family Advocacy Program-Medical at Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center, explained that emotional abuse is the most under-reported type of child abuse, and yet it is shown to have the potential to be the most damaging since it is frequently on-going, and young minds are especially susceptible to it.
In her time as a counselor, Bailey has seen, “many broken children, walking around in the body of a grown adult.”
In other words, she has dealt with many adults who are still dealing with the after-effects of the emotional abuse they received as children. She said studies are now showing that the emotional abuse of children may have more long-term negative effects on children than physical or sexual abuse.
And yet, Davidson said that in his time as the police chief, they have had only one such case reported.
“I wish people took it more seriously and reported it more,” he said.
Command Sgt. Major Clark Kuhling, garrison command sergeant major, thanked all the participants for their expertise and the efficiency with which they were able to work through the scenarios.
“Unfortunately, the reason they know all the answers is because we have had to deal with these situations [in real life] before,” he said. “If we lived in a perfect world, they would be stumbling for answers, and not knowing what to do.”
Col. John Ives, garrison commander, also praised the group and explained that exercises like these are important. He looked around the room and asked, “How many of you are parents?” Most of the hands went up.
Ives nodded and said, “[Child abuse] is a legitimate concern for all of us, knowing that our children spend so much time away from us. We need to know that the system works and is there to help us when something occurs.”
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Fort Huachuca is home to the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Army Signal Command and more than 48 supported tenants representing a diverse, multiservice population. Our unique environment encompasses 946 square miles of restricted airspace and 2,500 square miles of protected electronic ranges, key components to the national defense mission.
Located in Cochise County, in southeast Arizona, about 15 miles north of the border with Mexico, Fort Huachuca is an Army installation with a rich frontier history. Established in 1877, the Fort was declared a national landmark in 1976.
We are the Army’s Home. Learn more at https://home.army.mil/huachuca/.