Under the theme “Strong Communities Strengthen Families” the Wright-Patt Family Advocacy program hosted a number of activities recently throughout the base to foster awareness during National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Since 1983, April has been designated the month to bring child abuse and neglect to the forefront to foster programs aimed at educating the community about warning signs, and to provide helpful resources and reinforce the notion that community members share the responsibility for the safety, protection and well-being of its children.
Within the military community the Family Advocacy Program serves to strengthen families and promote parenting skills and resilience.
Military families are less likely to be impacted by abuse risk factors such as poverty, unemployment or limited access to health care. But, they do face other challenges such as frequent moves and extended family separations that may increase parenting stress, according to the Military Community and Family Policy office.
Predominantly, child abuse among military families stems from child neglect related to lack of supervision, or exposure to physical hazards.
Throughout the month on Wright-Patt Pinwheel Gardens were planted all over the base, a Prevention Walk was held, a Blue Ribbon Tree contest was held, and workshops were available to promote healthy relationships.
“The blue ribbon is the international sign for child abuse prevention and serves as a constant reminder that we all have a responsibility to help keep children safe,” said Beverly Knight-Stukenborg, Wright-Patt’s Family Advocacy outreach manager.
“We invited all of our base organizations to take action for children by building a Blue Ribbon Tree in their work centers during the month. We offered some suggestions for hanging ribbons on their trees to represent things such as the confirmed number of abused or neglected children in their county, the number of newborn babies in their community, or to show community support for children in general,” she added.
In 2008, Prevent Child Abuse America introduced the pinwheel as the national symbol for child abuse prevention. Their research showed that people respond to pinwheels, and that they represent whimsy and childlike notions.
“All of the Child Development Centers on the installation, the Youth Center and the Wright-Patt Medical Center planted Pin Wheel for Prevention Gardens. At the CDCs we talked to the kids about ways to recognize child abuse as they planted their gardens,” said Knight-Stukenborg.