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Shaw takes a stand against child abuse

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Dallin Wrye
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, where Americans emphasize the importance of forming strong families that stand up against abuse and neglect. This year’s theme is “Thriving Children and Families: Prevention with Purpose,” meaning moving beyond awareness and encouraging Air Force communities to take action against abuse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least one in seven children experienced child abuse or neglect in the last year. Abuse can lead to delayed brain development and other lifelong health problems.

“Signs of abuse in children can be very withdrawn or overly aggressive behavior,” said Patti Busser, 20th Fighter Wing family advocacy intervention specialist. “They tend to mimic what’s happening to them with other people. They won’t really trust or connect with anyone else and have behavior problems that they shouldn’t for that age.”

Some risk factors for parents are mental health issues, substance abuse and various stress factors. A big aspect of prevention is getting the parents to the right helping agencies.

“Some parents start to feel overwhelmed and feel like they're failing as a parent due to stress,” said Busser. “Where we really want to step in is before anything happens and get that parent help. We focus on reducing that level of stress so that parents can take a deep breath and say ‘I can do this.’”

Building a safe environment at home and in the community is important for a child’s development. There are agencies to help new parents with their parenting skills and to give them a break.

“It all starts with parents providing a nurturing environment for their children to grow up in and parents taking advantage of military and community resources,” said Sarah Inman, 20th FW family advocacy nurse.

Whether you are new to parenting or have been parenting for years, there are resources to help you learn how to improve parenting and communication skills.

“We have many programs, such as New Parent Support Program and Dad’s 101,” said Inman. “These programs at Shaw give new parents the education and skills they need to help their children grow up in a safe and loving environment.”

If you witness abuse or have concern for a child’s safety, contact your installation’s Family Advocacy Program or the National Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 422-4453. If the child is in immediate danger, call 911.