Family advocacy promotes child abuse prevention month Published May 11, 2007 By Airman Basic Evan Carter 36th Wing Public Affairs ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Team Andersen observes National Child Abuse Prevention Month and continues to underline a commitment to growing and supporting strong families where all children can thrive in an environment of security and love. The family advocacy office demonstrated their commitment to prevent, intervene in and treat child abuse by having informational booths at the commissary April 11 and 13. The booths provided basic information on ways to prevent child abuse as well as information on family oriented activities. Andersen members are reminded that even though we have a low child abuse rate, we're still not immune to the problem, said Capt. Jerry Hoopes, family advocacy officer. "At the commissary booths, we had an assortment of printed material (flyers, pamphlets, data sheets, etc.), refrigerator magnets and stress stars," said Jay Gottlieb, family advocacy program assistant. "Each product addressed one of the various aspects of preventing child maltreatment." Informational pamphlets included but wasn't limited to the following topics; 101 Ways to Tell Your Children I Love You, 101 Ways to Cope with Stress, 101 Ways to Praise your Child, Single Parenting, Parenting Teenagers, 3 Things Every Good Dad Knows, School and the military Family, Dealing with Bullying, Teen Parenthood and The Air Force Family Advocacy Program. Meriam Webster's definition of child abuse is harm to, or neglect of, a child by another person, whether adult or child. Child abuse happens in all cultural, ethnic, and income groups. Child abuse can be physical, emotional - verbal, sexual or through neglect. Abuse may cause serious injury to the child and may even result in death. Some examples of child abuse are leaving children in cars, leaving children home unattended, children playing in the streets, and in severe yet rare some children are physically or sexually abused. In the more severe cases, the Child Protection Service (CPS) will make the final decision on what action needs to be taken when abuse is found to be occurring, said Captain Hoopes. To battle those issues, the family advocacy program builds a healthy community on Base by developing, implementing, and evaluating policies and programs designed to prevent, intervene in and treat child and spouse abuse, said Captain Hoopes. The family advocacy office offers families a place to come with there questions and concerns regarding child abuse or on ways to promote healthy families. In comparison with other bases of similar populations, Andersen has a low rate of child abuses explained Captain Hoopes. However, there is still a need to educate individuals. "There are programs out there such as water babies and tumbling for tots that are good programs for parents to bring their children to," said Captain Hoopes. "It's important that military members and dependent spouses realize how important it is to raise children in a healthy and positive environment." Last year the family advocacy office received a grant from Pacific Air Force to target Airmen E-5 and below. According to Captain Hoopes, studies show that E-5's and below with young children are more susceptible to family issues. A couple reasons the study found, were lack of support systems so far from family and the unemployment rates for spouses are higher here on guam. "We had five marriage retreats that were aimed to help military families endure the hardships that military life often imposes," said Captain Hoopes. "We talked to them about finance, deployment structures and couple communication." Participating in recreational programs such as hiking, going swimming or bowling are good ways to build strong families and help alleviate stressors that sometimes lead to abuse. "Andersen's spouse employment rate is low which makes it hard for families who are used to dual incomes," said Captain Hoopes. "Spouses who feel cooped up at home or trapped at times should know there is always something happening. To find out about family activities, call family advocacy, the chaplain's office, or pick up a base newspaper." If family members need anything, have any questions they're not sure of or just need someone to talk to, call the family advocacy office at 366-5167 and they will be more than happy to help. "Families need not be afraid of my office. There's a misconception that we take children from their families," Captain Hoopes said. "Our job is to protect the military members. If something happens we are just here to get you on the right track; we are not punitive."