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Fort Rucker community proclaims commitment to stopping child abuse

Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, talks with students about child abuse during the Child Abuse Prevention Month proclamation signing at the Fort Rucker Elementary School April 1. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, talks with students about child abuse during the Child Abuse Prevention Month proclamation signing at the Fort Rucker Elementary School April 1. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: April 3, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 3, 2014) -- Oftentimes, child abuse goes unreported and unresolved, and unnecessary suffering can be experienced, but Fort Rucker and the Army are trying to make a change by increasing awareness and resolving to stamp it out in the community.

Hundreds of students, parents and teachers crowded the Fort Rucker Primary School gym April 1 as Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, signed the Child Abuse Prevention Month proclamation to bring awareness to the installation and educate on the dangers of child abuse.

“We have to be ready to end child abuse and we have to be ready to end it at all times,” said McRae during the signing. “You guys, as our children, are our future. You’re the future Soldiers of tomorrow and future leaders, and it’s very important that we protect all of our people, including our children.”

“By officially designating April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, the President of the United States is calling on all of us – military and civilian, parents and non-parents – to unite in a common goal: to end the abuse of children,” read the proclamation. “Children are the future of our nation. It is our job to assure that grow up in a stable and nurturing environment, and it is our job to think of them first and keep them safe.”

The proclamation goes on to read that child abuse prevention should not be seen as a one-month assignment, but something people recognize year round.

This year’s theme is “children’s safety comes first,” said McRae, adding that although most people are familiar with the most recognizable forms of child abuse, such as physical, things like child neglect tend to go unnoticed.

“The Army community encourages everyone to learn how to recognize child abuse and neglect, and rediscover and rethink ways to (keep their Family) healthy,” said the garrison commander. “We all have a task today, and that’s to find better ways to stay healthy and to deal with the stresses that we have. We all have to be there to reach out to others and help them, and recognize when someone else is having a bad day.”

About 75 percent of Army children are under the age of 11, which McRae said makes them more vulnerable to abuse. Also, from 2001-2011, child neglect accounted for the majority of child abuse reports the Army dealt with, and in 2012, more than half the victims were younger than five years of age, he added.

“That’s a very critical time for our kids … and (any form of child abuse) is something we really need to get after,” said McRae, adding that remedying the situation starts with being observant.

“Abusive parenting extends beyond the capacities of our friends and Families’ attempt to remediate, and often requires reporting,” he said. “If we can fix a problem at a lower level, we want to do that, but sometimes it requires reporting.”

Vicki Gilmer, Fort Rucker Elementary School principal, said it’s necessary for not only the parents to understand what child abuse is, but for the children, as well.

“Children have such unique lives and unique stresses that I think they need to be aware that what they do is really, really important, and sometimes they could get overloaded,” she said. “They need to know that they aren’t alone and that help is available to them.”

Gilmer said that the schools have spent a lot of time working with the children on reporting issues, talking to guidance counselors if they need to, and teaching the children that there are people at the school, such as teachers, who can help.

“There are signs all around the school that say ‘I can help,’ and ‘I’m a friend,’ so they can see that there are folks out there to help them and they don’t have to tackle things by themselves,” she added.

“Protecting our children really is about protecting our future,” said McRae. “I am proud to be your garrison commander because it pleases me very much to know that I am in the company of some great, valuable assets of this nation.”

For more information or to report child abuse, call 255-3898.

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/123293/

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