Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Child abuse more likely during deployments

This study has some very sad findings. It concerns Army families, but depression and neglect can happen in families with deployed loved ones in ANY branch of the service. Lubbock Marine Parents wants families to know that help IS available. There are websites such as Military One Source which can help with anything from personal finances to relocation information to emotional support during deployments, and there are a variety of counseling services offered here in town. Lubbock Marine Parents is here for ALL military family members. We support the troops with care packs, but we are also an extra shoulder for families to lean on. If you or a loved one need help, whether it is to locate resources for you, to be a shoulder to cry on, or anything you might need, we are here.

By Karen Jowers - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Aug 1, 2007 12:11:28 EDT

In Army enlisted families with at least one incident of child abuse, the children are far more likely to be abused during deployments, researchers have found.

And the type of abuse is likely to be child neglect at the hands of their mothers, according to a study to be published in the Aug. 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers at RTI International and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health.

The study looked at Army families with at least one substantiated report of child abuse and had at least one combat-related deployment during the 40-month period between September 2001 and December 2004. Within those families, the rate of child abuse during soldier deployments was 42 percent higher than when the soldier was not deployed.

Only enlisted families are represented in the study; the data included only 49 officer families, too small a sample to analyze, the researchers stated. For the same reasons, they excluded 156 families in which the soldier was not married to the civilian parent, and nine families in which both husband and wife were soldiers. Thus, out of 1,985 families who met the initial criteria, 1,771 families were included in the study.

“The greatest increase we see during deployments is the increase in child neglect,” which is a category of child abuse, said Deborah Gibbs, a senior health analyst at RTI and the study’s lead author. The study was funded by the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

The civilian mother committed child abuse during the time the soldier-husband was deployed at a rate three times greater than when he was not deployed. The rate of child neglect was four times greater. Rates of child abuse for male civilian parents were not greater, researchers noted, suggesting that the two groups may be different in terms of the stress they experience, or how they mobilize resources to help them during deployments.

There may be several reasons for the increase in child neglect among civilian mothers, Gibbs said. “Maybe male parents are more likely to commit child physical abuse. Or, one of the ways the civilian parent left at home responds is by getting overwhelmed with the situation, and may not be keeping up with the child’s needs or supervising the child.”

She said the Army is also more stringent in its regulations about child abuse than civilian communities, “to the credit of the Army. They take seriously leaving a child alone in an apartment, or alone in a parked car at a convenience store.”

It’s understandable that young mothers with young children may find it difficult to manage when the soldier leaves, she said, “which is not to say this is trivial. It’s clear there’s a need for preventive and supportive services.”

Gibbs said she has been on several different installations and has talked about her findings with those who deal with child abuse. “They were not surprised. They are aware of this. They are working hard on it, but their resources are stretched thin. There is also the likelihood that those most in need are not going to seek the services.”

Read the entire article here.

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