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Expanding awareness can minimize child abuse

Date Posted: 2004-04-15

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa, Japan — Service members and their families are encouraged to become active in supporting Child Abuse Awareness month in April by increasing their knowledge of what child abuse is and how to prevent it.

Family Advocacy annually holds Child Abuse Awareness month to educate experts through official conferences and to increase family awareness through scheduled events.

Family Advocacy is an organization that offers counseling and other services to aid and prevent offenders from abusing and victims from being abused.

Navy Lt. Beth-Ann Vealy, manager, Family Advocacy Program, has more than 10 years experience in domestic work and has been involved with Child Abuse Awareness month for nearly three years.

“On Okinawa, it is more important to make efforts to prevent child abuse because our resources are so limited,” Vealy said. “We can’t treat it here. We don’t have the mandated legal agencies to support abuse cases. Here we have a multi-disciplinary team consisting of law enforcement, medical, legal and counseling officials with Marine Corps Orders (MCO) and Federal Laws to stand behind.”

According to MCO 1700.24B and Marine Corps Base Japan Order 1752.2B, every service member has an obligation to report abuse. The orders explain abuse, and who to direct reports too.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nancy Harper, medical consultant at U.S. Naval Hospital, Okinawa, organized a three-day seminar that began Tuesday March 30, to supplement Child Abuse Awareness month.

According to 2001 statistics from National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect, every day approximately 2,475 children were found to be victims of abuse in America. Fifty thousand child abuse and neglect referrals were reported to Child Protective Service agencies each week. A total of 1,300 child deaths were due to abuse.

Last year family advocacy handled more than 100 cases of child abuse. Since the beginning of this fiscal year, more than 100 case referrals pertaining to child abuse have already been received.

“There definitely is a need to increase awareness and education,” Vealy said.

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