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Standing united for April Awareness: Keeping Guam community safe for children, families

Joint Region Marianas (JRM) military and civilian community leaders sign a joint proclamation, declaring April 2018 as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention & Child Abuse Prevention Month, during a ceremony, April 3, 2018. The Joint military proclamation was signed by U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, commander, JRM; Capt. Hans Sholley, commanding officer, Naval Base Guam; U.S. Air Force Col. Joel Almosara, 36th Medical Group commander; U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Christopher Chase, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam; and U.S. Army Col. Ronnie Delfin, for Maj. Gen. Roderick R. Leon Guerrero, the adjutant general for the Guam National Guard. The JRM Proclamation calls upon military personnel and their families to increase their participation in our efforts to prevent sexual assault and child abuse, thereby strengthening the island community. (Air National Guard courtesy photo)

Joint Region Marianas (JRM) military and civilian community leaders sign a joint proclamation, declaring April 2018 as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention & Child Abuse Prevention Month, during a ceremony, April 3, 2018. The Joint military proclamation was signed by U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, commander, JRM; Capt. Hans Sholley, commanding officer, Naval Base Guam; U.S. Air Force Col. Joel Almosara, 36th Medical Group commander; U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Christopher Chase, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam; and U.S. Army Col. Ronnie Delfin, for Maj. Gen. Roderick R. Leon Guerrero, the adjutant general for the Guam National Guard. The JRM Proclamation calls upon military personnel and their families to increase their participation in our efforts to prevent sexual assault and child abuse, thereby strengthening the island community. (Air National Guard courtesy photo)

To commemorate April as Month of the Military child and National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Andersen Helping Agencies are offering a free information outreach and exhibit event April 30, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Andersen Main Exchange.

Organized by the Family Advocacy Program office; Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Coordinator and Air Force Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment (ADAPT) program, the tri-organizational event is open to all with base access and will offer visitors a variety of activities and information in one, convenient location.

During the event, various base agencies will provide information and answer questions to allow service members, families and community members to spot and respond to abuse and help keep families safe.

“We have a mix of different agencies supporting our efforts to raise awareness of child and family safety during April,” said Kayla Ogo, a Family Advocacy Program education services facilitator. “We hope people come by because there are a lot of resources for them. It’s not just about child abuse prevention but a variety of support services.”

The Family Advocacy Program aims to take care of those on the home front, the spouses and children of Team Andersen, by working to eliminate child and domestic abuse and ensuring the safety and support for all military families.

“We offer a variety of preventative services, such as counselling and life-skills education classes, to help manage anger and stress, help couples build communication and resiliency,” Ogo said. “We also offer classes for parents on effective discipline techniques and a new parents program, which offers education on nurturing and development.”

April is also Sexual Assault Prevention Awareness Month. Sharing the month’s focus on protecting healthy relationships, SAPR victim advocates will stand ready to explain available resources, answer questions and help break down the stigma surrounding reporting processes.

“It's important for Airmen and families to know the resources available so they are better prepared if faced with a situation that requires the support,” said 1st Lt. Lyndi Minott, 36th Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. “We welcome everyone to stop by and meet our victim advocates, who will be available to answer any questions and provide information pertaining to the services. We will also be handing out educational awareness items; all items displaying the Andersen SAPR hotline number so it is always available.”

To connect Andersen families with their island community, Ogo said the event goes beyond base boundaries and will include island-wide subject-matter experts of the Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence, Guam Child Protective Services, the Guam Police Department’s domestic abuse response team and from the non-profit organization Erica's House, which offers a safe-haven program for children and parents dealing with issues of domestic abuse or family violence.

Often contributing to violence in families, alcohol and drug abuse prevention is another important factor in keeping families safe. Specially-trained experts with the ADAPT program will also be on site to introduce kids and young adults to the danger of driving with “beer goggles,” with life-like simulations of the dangers of driving while intoxicated.

Coming out to the exchange, where people usually come to shop and eat, is a way for the offices to open their doors and offer easily accessible information and reminders to those who may not know of the services – or may not yet think they will ever need assistance.

“We go out into the community to promote awareness of these issues so that all our military families know that abuse doesn’t just affect people outside the community,” Ogo said. “This is something that affects everybody –even our military family. We want members to know that there are resources available to them. It’s a one-stop shop where the experts are all gathered for them – so they know what is offered and where to go when they are in need.”

Andersen Elementary and Middle-School students will present their “Pinwheel for Prevention” display and posters – highlighting a message of the need for vigilance in all families.

“The pinwheels symbolize a happy childhood,” Ogo said. “It’s a whimsical symbol of happiness, reminding us that childhood should be fun. They are planted on base as a reminder of our responsibility to the children in our community, who are supposed to live and grow in a safe environment.”

Throughout the rest of the month, the wheels will celebrate positive impacts on children’s lives and honor happy and safe homes.
It is mandatory for DOD employees to report child abuse. If you suspect abuse is occurring, or are not sure what you witnessed, call the base Family Advocacy Team at 366-5167. For non-emergencies or to make anonymous reports, call security forces Crime Stoppers hotline at 366-3666.

For more information visit Military One Source and Andersen AFB SARC

Other resources include:

http://guamcoalition.org/happenings/upcoming-sexual-assault-awareness-monthchild-abuse-prevention-month-event

www.dphss.guam.gov

http://preventchildabuse.org/resource/pinwheels-for-prevention/.