It sometimes gets overlooked that military families serve as much as the service member. Children play a leading role in military family readiness. The month of April is doubly important to military families as it is not only National Child Abuse Prevention Month, it is also the Month of the Military Child. Recent data shows that more than two million children have experienced the deployment of a parent.
National Child Abuse Prevention Month recognizes the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect and promotes the social and emotional well-being of children and families. During the month of April and throughout the year, communities are encouraged to increase awareness and provide education and support to families through resources and strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect. Each year, the White House and many states issue proclamations to raise awareness and to encourage communities to take steps to improve the well-being of children.
The month of the Military Child was established in 1986 by former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger to underscore the important role children play in the Armed Forces community. As the father of military children, I personally express my appreciation for the many sacrifices our military children make. Despite the many challenges they face, they remain strong and resilient. More than 2 million children have had a parent deploy since 9/11. Half of them have experienced two or more deployments. Nearly 80% of military children attend public schools throughout the United States; and, the average military family moves three times more often than their civilian counterpart.
At NAS Lemoore, we recognize that the strength of our fighting force relies heavily on the well-being of our service members and their families. It requires a supportive environment that starts with parents and extends to the community help military children adjust to the challenges that come with being a part of a military family. Everyone is a part of the family readiness system; chaplains, teachers, child-care providers, family advocacy specialists and command leadership all play an important part in this equation.
The Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) staff onboard Naval Air Station Lemoore does a fantastic job of reaching out to military families with several free family advocacy programs and classes. FFSC services include free parenting classes along with other associated classes.
An example is Positive Parenting With A Plan class. It is an organized, structured approach to discipline in the home rather than “flying by the seat of our pants”, a common practice in most homes. The plan focuses on the entire family and not just the child. Parents are required to change their attitudes and behaviors, communication is clarified, and compliance to parental authority really happens.
This workshop provides amazing tools for parents and grandparents alike, helping parents restore responsibility and respect in their homes. This parenting course was developed by Licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Matthew A Johnson. It has been well researched and has been used by hundreds of cities, counties, and supportive parenting agencies around the country. All parents will receive a copy of the book, “Positive Parenting With a Plan” upon course completion.
Another class that is specifically designed for adults, but can vastly improve the atmosphere in any home is the Couples Communication class. This class offers couples the essential ingredients that are required for effective, nurturing and loving communication between partners. If we as adults are incapable of communicating with the utmost respect and love for one another at home, every single child can pick up on this.
In 2017, the DoD reported 12,849 incidents of child abuse with 6,450 incidents that were confirmed as incidents of child abuse.
Raising awareness about child abuse underscores that the problem is still present and so are the individuals who care about its resolution. All parents experience stress, especially during their child’s infancy and toddler stages. Stress related to the challenges that come with wearing the uniform should also not go overlooked. It is important for parents to develop self-awareness when they are frustrated and angry so as to prevent parents from losing control when feeling overwhelmed.
National Child Abuse Prevention Month has been observed annually since 1983, nine years after the first federal child protection legislation, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, according to the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
To find out more about registering for any of the free classes mentioned in this column, contact the Fleet and Family Support Center at (559) 998-4042. To report an incident of child abuse, call the Child Protective Services Hotline at 1-559-852-2000.