JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and Joint Base San Antonio is doing its part to spread the word on the terrible reality of abuse and what can be done to promote strong family relationships and therefore safe, healthy children.
"When it comes to child abuse prevention, it is equally important for parents to self-manage their stress and emotions," Emily Mueller, 359th MDOS Family Advocacy intervention specialist, said. "Self-care can influence how parents act with their children."
Cardboard kids made by volunteers from local nonprofits and businesses around the city will be placed in several JBSA-Randolph locations - including the Exchange, Rambler Fitness Center, medical clinic and youth center - representing "one of 5,846 confirmed victims of child abuse or neglect in San Antonio in 2013," Mueller said.
Child abuse is not manifest exclusively in physical or sexual form. It also occurs emotionally and when parents neglect their children.
Leaving bruises, berating or belittling, poor awareness of where the child is, insufficient clothing or feeding and exposure to physical hazards are all instances of child abuse, Mueller said.
While plenty of literature describes the nature of child abuse and the many reasons why it happens, Mueller said risk factors such as parents' own history of being abused as children, marital conflict and high levels of stress can contribute.
With the school year close to its end and summertime approaching, parents should be mindful to have activities planned for their children, Mueller said.
"Sometimes parents get caught up with telling their kids to listen to them when they should be listening to their kids' needs," she said. "Paying attention to them for at least 15 minutes a day can make a big difference."
For active-duty members enrolled in the JBSA Exceptional Family Member Program or who have specials-needs family members, an information fair plus fun activities will be held at Morgan's Wonderland 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 26. EFMP members can purchase tickets at the front gate for a discounted price.
Anyone with knowledge or suspicion of child abuse or neglect, including civilians and contractors, should contact Family Advocacy offices.
"We're all mandatory reporters," Mueller said. "We must do everything we can to protect children who may not be able to protect themselves."
JBSA community members can sign up for counseling sessions and classes geared toward family matters year-round provided by the 359th Medical Operations Squadron's Family Advocacy Program and Mental Health Flight. A few self-help courses offered this month at JBSA-Randolph are "Stepfamilies 101" 2-4 p.m. Thursday and April 24 at the Military & Family Readiness Center, and "Scream Free Marriage" 2-4 p.m. Thursday and April 24 at the Health and Wellness Center.
Additionally, they can enroll in JBSA-Fort Sam Houston's "Scream Free Parenting" 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 22 and 29; "Positive Parenting" 3-5 p.m. Wednesday, April 23 and 30; and "Bringing Baby Home" 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 23. At JBSA-Lackland, "Love and Logic," which is also about parenting, is available 1:30-3:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 22 and 29.
Other recommended April offerings are "Anger and Stress Management" 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, April 21 and 28 at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston; and "Master Your Emotions" 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday, April 23 and 30 at JBSA-Randolph.
To sign up for classes, file a report or for more information, call 652-2448 for the JBSA-Randolph Family Advocacy. To contact JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and JBSA-Lackland's Family Advocacy, call 292-5967.
The JBSA Family Advocacy after-hours hotline is 671-4225.