Child Abuse In Military Families Not Likely Reported Or Investigated, Study Reveals A Broken System

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald December 15, 04:00 am

A new U.S. Army-sponsored study has revealed how child abuse in military families go largely unreported and not investigated. It highlights a broken system that results in the under-reporting of these cases. It suggests more stringent measures between the military services and its medical and civilian partners.

The study, which has been published in the Child Abuse & Neglect journal, found out that only 20 percent of child abuse within military families have been set on record from 2004 to 2007. The numbers are a lot lower compared to cases reported and substantiated by the Child Protective Services (CPS) among civilian families at 44 percent.

The low numbers are raising alarms and concerns because the military has a Family Advocacy Program (FAP) that functions like the CPS. Yet data culled by the researchers, who come from the PolicyLab at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, suggests there is under-reporting going on. "[FAP] don't know about the majority of the cases that are being diagnosed in health care facilities," Dr. Dave Rubin from the PolicyLab said, according to Military.Com.

The government mandates health care facilities to report cases of child abuse and neglect or else these institutions run the risk of losing their license to operate. The military created the FAP in 1981 to ensure the welfare of military families since their needs are different and specialized compared to civilian families.

As military families often move to different places, the more monitoring and guidance is required from the FAP. "Unfortunately, what is implied by the low number of substantiated abuse cases by U.S. Army FAP compared to known substantiation rates in the civilian population (CPS) is that some children are falling through the cracks of a broken system," Rubin further stated.

The expert cited that perhaps child abuse cases in military families have been facilitated in civilian health care facilities but were never communicated with the FAP. Thus, the findings recommend for closer coordination and the adoption of a better among the civilian medical facilities, the CPS and the FAP. It is imperative that the FAP is involved because it is the agency that can best help with "military-specific services to children and families in need," Rubin said.

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