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Promoting child abuse awareness

  • Published
  • By Capt. Michael Fischer
  • 8th Medical Operations Squadron Mental Health
Since 1983, Congress has recognized April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Even though Kunsan has few to no family members here, April still gives service members a chance to think about strengthening family bonds through adversity.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates an average of four children die in the United States every day due to abuse. More than half of those children are under the age of 4. In 2010, approximately 695,000 children were victims of child abuse. It's important to note that many instances of abuse go unreported due to the fear, guilt and shame associated.

Dr. Paul Hauck, a retired child psychologist, said," The most common causes of child abuse are the parents' inability to change the child's behaviors and that usually is a poor fit between the child's particular temperament and the parents' particular discipline style."

As members get ready to reunite with their families after being apart for a year or more...here are some things to keep in mind:

· Don't expect things to go back to the way they were when you left. No matter how much a person has stayed in touch via Skype, phone calls or during a mid-tour, roles in the family have shifted to accommodate mom or dad being away. Most often, families adjust their schedules to accommodate the missing member and have found some stability and predictability. Family members will now be facing an upheaval of sorts as they realign again after being apart.

· Don't rush things. Whether it is your relationship with a child or a partner, you have to allow transition time. Too often, families try to push themselves into what they think their state was before the parent or partner left. Everyone needs to reintroduce themselves to each other, because a year can change people.

· Do talk about things and feelings. Bottling things up and hiding unresolved issues only causes problems down the road. Conflicts in relationships with spouses or children happen, and time and distance do not generally make them better.

· Do seek help when you need it. Many people fall into the trap of thinking they can handle a situation, even though facts and observation proves they need help. Talking to a chaplain, Military Family Life Consultant (MFLC), Family Advocacy or Mental Health provider can sometimes make the difference between a family getting stronger or falling apart.

· Do enjoy your time. Many Kunsan Airman spend their tour adjusting to being without their families and suddenly have to remember what it's like to be a parent or partner full-time. With permanent change of station season kicking into high gear, it is common for families to always be in a rush mode. However, very few deadlines are so important that taking time to go for a 30 minute walk, short trip or watching a movie together cannot be accommodated.

Kunsan offers numerous ways for single and married Airmen to get help with their PCS, parenting and other transitional questions:
- Family Advocacy in Bldg 302, 782-4841
- Base Chapel in Bldg. 501, 782-4300
- MFLC in Bldg. 755, 782-2297
- Airman and Family Readiness Center in Bldg. 755, 782-5644

April is an opportunity to become aware of how abuse affects families, but it's also an opportunity to learn how to prevent it.