By Eve Meinhardt/ParaglideFebruary 25, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Every 10 seconds, a report of child abuse is made. About five children die each day because of child abuse - three out of four are under the age of 4.
While these numbers are high, it is estimated that between 60 to 85 percent of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates.
ChildHelp, an organization founded for the prevention and treatment of child abuse, says that 30 percent of the children who are abused, grow up to become abusers themselves. The cycle can stop if parents, relatives, neighbors and friends realize the consequences of their actions. By recognizing the signs of child abuse and stepping in to help or by recognizing that they themselves are the abuser, the life and livelihood of a child can be saved.
With the added stresses of deployments and Family separation, military Families face challenges that other Families don't have to consider. Fort Bragg's Army Community Service, Family Advocacy Program helps parents recognize the pressures they are under, enabling them to better care for themselves and their child.
"A Soldier coming back from deployment has enough to deal with. Coming back to being a new dad makes it even harder. While it's hard on him, it's just as hard on the mom who has been on her own caring for the baby, taking care of the household, paying the bills and often working on top of that," said Tom Hill, FAP manager.
Hill said the father stepping in to provide a little bit of help could greatly relieve some of the pressure on an often tired and stressed out mom.
"Sure, diamonds and flowers are nice, but the best gift for the mother of an infant is to change a couple of diapers or take on a couple of night feedings," he said. "That will provide her with a sense of joy and relief that a diamond could never give."
When parents are exhausted or overwhelmed, that's when mistakes can happen. Not all abuse is intentional and it comes in many forms. Abuse can be physical, emotional or outright neglect. Hill said abuse doesn't always come from the parents and that relatives or friends left alone with the child need to be carefully screened.
"Single parents need to be especially careful about who they leave alone with their child," he said. "Just because someone cares about you, that doesn't mean they care about your child. Someone who's left with a crying baby can be downright dangerous if they don't know how to deal with a child or just don't care. Whether it's your brother, an aunt or a boyfriend, some people just aren't suited to be alone with a child."
The FAP provides home visits to any military Family that wants one. The home visitor is a source of information for the parents - offering advice, answering questions and providing guidance on important measures like building your child's self worth and child proofing your home.
Hill said that helping military Families is his number one concern.
"It's almost like you're a single parent when you're a military parent. You end up doing everything while your spouse is gone. We do our best to provide that helping hand whenever it's needed," he said.
To find out more about the Family Advocacy Program and the services it offers, visit www.fortbraggmwr.com/fap.php or call 396-5521.