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Child Abuse, Neglect Up After U.S. Soldiers Deploy

Discussion in 'News, Politics & Debates' started by goingonhope, Aug 6, 2007.

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  1. goingonhope

    goingonhope Member Premium Member

    In The News:

    Child Abuse, Neglect Up After U.S. Soldiers Deploy: STUDY


    July 31, 07

    TORONTO (CP) - Incidents of child abuse and neglect among U.S. army families rise significantly when a parent is deployed to a combat zone and the problem is greatest when women are left behind to keep the home fires burning, a study has found.

    The study, which was funded by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, shows the overall rate of child abuse and neglect was more than 40 per cent higher while a soldier-parent was deployed for a combat mission than when he or she was based at home.

    There is no similar data on child abuse for Canadian military families, but experts say programs to help spouses and their children deal with separation have been ramped up over the last 15 years and intensified since the mission to Afghanistan began.

    The U.S. study, published in Wednesday's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, compared the rates of child maltreatment among almost 2,000 army families in which confirmed incidents of child abuse or neglect had been reported.

    Using army records from fall 2001 to the end of 2004, researchers looked at the number of incidents of child maltreatment while enlisted soldiers were at home and while they were away on a combat tour.

    "And over all these families we did find a 42 per cent increase in the rate of child abuse and neglect during times of deployment compared to non-deployment," said co-author Sandra Martin, a professor of maternal and child health at the University of North Carolina.

    "But what we found when we looked at that is really it seemed that the deployment had the greatest effect on the civilian wives that were left behind when their husbands went off to war," Martin said Tuesday from Chapel Hill, N.C.

    "For that particular group, when we analyzed the data, we found that the rate of child neglect increased almost four times amongst these women, and the rate of physical child abuse almost doubled."

    • Neglect was defined as not providing adequate care for a child.

    "It could be that you're not at home when the child is at home - if they're a young child - that you're not sending your child to school, that you're not taking them for health care when they need it," she said.

    • When it came to child abuse, Martin said the incidents included physical, emotional and sexual mistreatment. While physical abuse rose noticeably with a spouse's deployment, sexual and emotional abuse levels stayed the same.

    "We know that military combat deployments are very stressful for families and most families really deal with this very well," she said. "But for some families the stress is just too much and it translates into inappropriate parenting."

    "We know certainly that everybody worries about a loved one who's deployed in a dangerous situation. And also if your spouse is away and you're home with the kids there's a lot more tasks to do, a bigger workload. So there's a lot of different stressors that these families undergo."

    Lee Windsor, deputy director of the Gregg Centre of War and Society at the University of New Brunswick, said there has been no similar study of Canadian military families on child mistreatment.

    But Windsor said the Canadian Forces has become increasingly aware of and sensitive to the need to support soldiers and their families, particularly since the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia that began in 1992.

    "That is not just a result of Afghanistan," he said from Fredericton. "There's been a building demand over these last 15 years."

    As a result, the military has instituted programs and services for soldiers and families at bases across the country to deal with the stress of deployment before, during and after missions to combat zones.

    As well, the federal government is funding five new clinics for military and police personnel suffering from service-related psychological injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition that struck a significant number of soldiers posted to Bosnia, Windsor said.

    "So there were a number of folks who came back injured quite badly in the mind, and it created demand and a need to do something in these communities to cope."

    Lt.-Cmdr. Pierre Babinsky, a spokesman for the Canadian Forces, said "we have no indication that there is any issue of maltreatment of children or anything related to that" among Canadian military families.

    "We have a very good program to support our families in terms of just about every aspect of deployment - support in terms of mental health, stress, administration," Babinsky said from Ottawa.

    "It's important for us that our people deploying be in a position where they can concentrate on the mission rather than worry about what's going on back home. Therefore, we go to great lengths to offer very good support to our families."

    Frances Priest, the deployment support co-ordinator for the Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) at CFB Petawawa, said she couldn't comment on possible child abuse or neglect, because "I just don't know."

    But Priest said MFRCs at bases across Canada help families deal with separations caused by deployment, offering support groups for spouses, family counselling and respite care so the parent on his or her own can get short breaks from the kids.

    "I think our military families are a lot stronger and organized than has been portrayed in the past and there are lots of services and programs that help them to face the new realities," she said from Petawawa, Ont.

    "There are new realities and those are the sorts of things we're trying to adjust to," she said of the Afghanistan mission, where about 2,500 Canadian troops are serving.

    Martin said the U.S. Department of Defence and the army also have a variety of programs for their military families.

    "So they're working very hard to help these families deal with this. But the study suggests that we need to do more so we can help everybody."

    Source: Cnews, Canada
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