JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time for Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson members to increase awareness, protect children and strengthen families.
“Many children suffer from physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect every day,” said Jennifer Frysz, 673d Medical Group Family Advocacy Outreach manager. “As a team, we need to do better to communicate and take proactive measures to prevent child abuse.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 1 in 4 children have experienced some form of child abuse or neglect in their lifetime.
Prevention tools include being aware of signs of abuse, reporting abuse and ensuring parents have the resources available to care for their children.
While child abuse may be hard to recognize, there are various signs to look out for.
Unexplained injuries, changes in behavior, lack of personal care or hygiene, and risk-taking behaviors are all signs of abuse.
Physical abuse can include violent actions such as hitting, kicking or punching.
Emotional abuse includes humiliation, isolation, threats and intimidation, and denial or blaming. This can sometimes have a more lasting effect than physical or sexual abuse.
Reporting suspected abuse can help the proper officials intervene before situations worsen or continue.
“Whenever someone has a suspicion of child abuse or domestic violence, they need to report it,” Frysz said. “Military community members are required to report suspected child maltreatment.”
Reporting can be done through the service member’s command, law enforcement, a medical provider or the JBER Family Advocacy office.
The key to ending childhood violence is prevention. Families who have stable and nurturing relationships are less likely to experience childhood violence in their homes than families who have unstable family relationship dynamics.
“Getting help or seeking guidance is a sign of strength,” Frysz said. “If parents have concerns, there are plenty of resources and tools available through Family Advocacy, the chapel, the Military Family and Readiness Center, and so on.
“In Family Advocacy we offer a lot of secondary prevention and education on communication, couples, anger management, parenting and more,” Frysz said. “We want to give people these skills and build their toolboxes so they can learn to cope with situations in a healthy way.”
Parents having the necessary tools is one of the most important ways to prevent abuse and maltreatment, she said.
There are several protective factors that can help lower the incidence of child abuse:
· Build a strong bond with your children by making time to do activities together.
· Find the best positive coping strategies for your family.
· Enforce discipline with clear limits and boundaries for children older than 15 months of age - with expectations based on their age and development.
· Understand the basic development for a child's age.
· Recognize your own limitations and know when to ask for help.
· Be socially active! Being active is healthy for both the parents and children.
· Have a good support system and know who to call if there are questions or problems.
These protective measures are important for families since they reinforce one another.
For a full schedule of workshops, preventative care and further information, visit the Family Advocacy Program Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/673d-JBER-Family-Advocacy-Program-567981006626728/.
With the help of Family Advocacy and other associations on base, the goal of National Child Abuse Awareness Month is to increase children’s social and emotional well-being while eliminating child maltreatment within families and communities.
To report suspected domestic violence or child maltreatment, call Family Advocacy at 580-5858, or call the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocates hotline at 519-9993.