Safe children leads to strong families

  • Published
  • By Kay Higgs-Adams
  • Airman and Family Readiness Center
As we welcome another April, which marks the observance of Month of the Military Child and Child Abuse Prevention Month, it is important for us to reflect on the importance of ensuring a bright future by protecting and nurturing the children in our communities. Supporting, educating and keeping our children safe requires a shared commitment by all members of our community, civilian and military alike. Partnerships working together can prevent maltreatment of children and help us realize our collective vision of safer, more supportive communities. 

April 2009 marks the 26th anniversary of National Child Abuse Prevention month. Prevent Child Abuse America's Pinwheels for Prevention Project is a collaborative effort including parents, educators, children's advocates, interested citizens, social service providers, churches and government. 

This yearly campaign includes military and civilian communities who partner in recognizing our responsibility for ensuring that all children are protected, all the time. Each pinwheel displayed during the month of April symbolizes a child who was abused during the past year in the United States. 

Anyone interested in learning more about the Prevent Child Abuse America project or who would like to participate can log on to 

Often members of the community want to get involved but are unsure how. Some suggestions to strengthen children and families in our communities include 

· Volunteer at a local school, military or civilian agency or children's hospital
· Get to know your neighbors and their children 
· Offer to babysit for a neighbor in need or to be an emergency contact
· Become a mentor, coach or scout leader
· Donate your child's clothing or old toys to a family in need
· Hold a yard sale and donate the proceeds to a worthy cause
· Be a positive role model
· Be an advocate for programs in your community that support children and families
· Participate in a parenting education or relationship enhancement programs 

In your own household, you can celebrate your child and family by doing many activities together. Reading to your child every day creates a wonderful opportunity to strengthen your bond. It also helps fosters your child's skills in reading and listening. 

Have family meetings once a week to create an opportunity to share and communicate. Teach your children how to problem-solve and set goals. Always end the meeting on a positive note such as baking cookies or watching a movie together. Keep an agenda list on the refrigerator during the week. If family members are deployed be sure to have the family meeting with them via telephone, web cam or emails. Negotiate good times that everyone can talk together. 

Despite our best efforts, we all need a little support or assistance at times. If you are an armed forces member or family member and you need parenting or relationship support, contact Military Onesource 24 hours a day at 1- 800-342-9647 or . You may also contact your installation's Family Advocacy Program or Airman and Family Readiness Center for support, guidance or a referral to appropriate services. 

If you suspect that a child is being or has been abused or neglected you should call your local Family Advocacy Program or, if the situation warrants immediate intervention call law enforcement. 

Remember that we can all play a part in strengthening families and preventing child maltreatment. Our shared commitment and individual contributions are the keys to supporting and protecting our nation's greatest resource, our children.