News: MCCS hosting April events for child abuse prevention
Story by Kristen Wong
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - Marine and Family Programs representatives planted colorful pinwheels along the center island near the H-3 gate, April 1, 2014, kicking off a month of activities planned through Marine Corps Community Services Hawaii to promote the prevention of a problem that continues to affect families locally and worldwide.
Various MCCS departments including the Family Advocacy Program are hosting events encouraging awareness of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, among other April observances, including autism awareness and the Month of the Military Child.
“The Family Advocacy Program wants to get out in our community,” Hauhio said. “We want people to feel comfortable coming to us for help. They don’t have to have apprehensions about seeing our counselors and victim advocates. We want them to feel comfortable talking with us and I think these activities will really help break down some of these barriers that might be there.”
National Child Abuse Prevention Month has been observed annually
since 1983, nine years after the first federal child protection legislation, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, according to the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Prevent Child Abuse America, a nonprofit organization established in 1972, created the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign, encouraging people nationwide to display pinwheels in support of preventing child abuse and neglect.
Approximately 6.3 million children involved in an estimated 3.4 million referrals were reported to Child Protective Service agencies during federal fiscal year 2012, according to the “Child Maltreatment 2012” report, the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
During fiscal year 2013, there were 82 reported cases of child neglect or abuse in the Marine Corps in Hawaii. Since the start of fiscal year 2014, there have already been 68, as of March 21.
“Prevention is what we thrive on,” said Debra Hauhio, a victim advocate at the Family Advocacy Program, under Marine and Family Programs. “If there is any kind of program, any kind of activity that we are able to provide during (National Child Abuse Prevention Month) to possibly bring awareness to even one child not being abused, it will be worth every minute.”
Multiple departments, including the Family Advocacy Program, the Exceptional Family Member Program, Children, Youth and Teen Programs and New Parent Support Program will be displaying more than 150 pieces of artwork submitted by Marine Corps Base Hawaii children throughout the month, in observance of child abuse prevention, autism awareness and the Month of the Military Child. The art will be on display at Marine and Family Programs office in building 216, the Exceptional Family Member Program office in building 219, the Education Center in building 244, Resource and Referral Office in building 5082 and the base library and at the Kulia Youth Center during the Spring Fair.
“(The art expo) is meant to be an awareness effort, educating the public about the Month of the Military Child, Child Abuse Prevention and Autism Awareness,” said Amy Laboy, the EFMP program manager. “If families would like more information or support, participating programs can provide them with resources and the support they are seeking.”
Through April 23, Marine and Family Programs staff are collecting new or gently-used stuffed animals for the annual Teddy Bear Round Up. The toys do not have to be teddy bears. Donations are being collected at the Laulima and Kupulau Child Development Centers; the Semper Fit Center; the Chaplain Joseph W. Estabrook Chapel; the Counseling Advocacy Awareness Relationship Enhancement Center; CYTP locations on base, and the base library. On April 26, Prevent Child Abuse Hawaii will collect and distribute all collected toys to various local shelters for abused children.
Families aboard MCB Hawaii are also invited to free events every Tuesday in April from 4 to 6 p.m. at Riseley Field during the second annual “In The Park” series. The series, hosted for multiple April observances, provides activities like arts and crafts, High Intensity Tactical Training for Kids and Hawaiian-themed entertainment.
On April 11 at 1 p.m., members of the MCB Hawaii community are invited to join MCCS staff for the Pinwheels for Prevention Walk down Lawrence Road from Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course, ending at Riseley Field. There, participants will tie pinwheels to the field fence in support of child abuse prevention.
Hauhio said active-duty service members who participate can receive a certificate of participation toward their selective reenlistment bonus program record.
Following the walk, the MCB Hawaii community is invited to the Keiki Aloha Expo in the Fairways Ballroom at the golf course from 2 to 5 p.m. During the expo, families can chat with representatives from various military-oriented services and attend mini-workshops
throughout the day that will focus on child behavior, breast-feeding and a family activity.
There are many different types of child abuse, and various types of abusers. The Military OneSource website describes four different types of child abuse: physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect.
The website lists examples of abuse. Abuse can include hitting a child with a belt with resulting visible wounds, verbally abusing a child with negative comments like they “should never have been born,” or not providing them with food, clothing or shelter.
Prevent Child Abuse America’s website provides signs of possible physical or sexual abuse, such as burns, bruises, anti-social or aggressive behavior.
Community members can also help prevent child abuse, by supporting parents in their neighborhood or in the community when they seem stressed out. The organization recommends individuals report alleged child abuse to the child protective services agency in the state, or 911. On Oahu, call Child Welfare Services at 832-5300.
“We know that parenting can be a tough job,” Hauhio said. “Our kids don’t come with manuals.”
Counseling and classes are not only for families enduring child abuse. Parents who simply feel overwhelmed while caring for their children can take advantage of parenting classes or schedule home visits to help prevent potential future child abuse. Hauhio said parents should not let pride get in the way of taking advantage of these resources.
“It’s not saying ‘I am a bad parent,’” Hauhio said. “It’s not saying ‘I’m a weak parent,’ it’s saying ‘I’m going to be the best parent that I possibly can so I’m going to tap into all my resources.’”
Hauhio said the Family Advocacy Program also provides assessments and services to families affected by alleged child abuse. In cases of child abuse, victim advocates provide support services the “non-offending” parent as well.
Individuals, or friends and family of individuals affected by possible child abuse or neglect can call the 24-hour crisis hotline at 216-7175. Call Hauhio at 257-7784 with questions about April’s events. Parents can also seek advice about child behavior and communication by calling the Community Counseling Program at 257-7780. Online resources for child and adult abuse prevention in Hawaii can be found at humanservices.hawaii.gov/ssd/.