We’ve been talking about issues that face military families, particularly, the impact of deployment to the children within the family. A clinical report published in the June 2013 issue of Pediatrics reveals that children who have family serving in the military are at a higher risk of experiencing emotional, social and behavioral problems. How can we help them?
Putting faces to the statistics regarding children of military families
The report Health and Mental Health Needs of Children in U.S. Military Families, by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), suggests ways that health care providers can care for children whose parents are in active military service.
The researchers found that among children whose parents are active service members:
- One quarter experienced symptoms of depression
- A third reported excessive worry
- Half had serious trouble sleeping
- Longer parental deployments were associated with a higher likelihood of emotional or behavioral problems in children between the ages of 5 to 17.
Another statistic that is quite alarming was recently released in the Huffington Post on July 31, 2013. The Army Times conducted an investigation and found that from the year 2009, child abuse rose approximately 40%. Last year, 3700 cases of Army child abuse and neglect were reported.
Although the research has not specified the cause of this rise, there is a strong connection to the abusers and incidences of PTSD in that parent. Also, a 2007 Pentagon study concluded that mothers were three times more likely to mistreat their children while their soldier husbands were away, than when they were home.
A call to create a network of support
Even apart from situations where the military parents are injured or disabled, the startling statistics above indicate that military families indeed need help, particularly while under the stress of deployment or separation, for the safety of the children.
I think it is of paramount importance we provide military families with a network of support, a group of individuals who they would trust to help them with issues of parenting, the consequences of deployment, and the guilt and shame that may linger due to the realization of having become a neglectful or abusive parent.
Easy-to-access, online parenting education
One prominent aspect of Lakeside Educational Network’s programs is our support of parents and parenting. After decades of accumulating significant amounts of healthy parenting information, Lakeside is joining the American Veterans Tribute Organization in a plan to provide parenting education and support to military parents in an easy to access on-line format. Parents will be able to view this information right from their own living room, den, tablet or cell phone.
We are currently working through the financing of this effort through fund-raising and will hopefully be offering military families the support they need, free of charge and accessible right from their homes.
I am excited to be a part of this significant effort to help reduce abuse and increase the emotional and relational health in families of those who are serving our country. If you wish to read more you can go to the AVT web site at a-v-t.org. This is yet another significant issue that we need to address for our children.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network