The Pentagon has struggled to deal with a little-noticed cascade of child abuse and neglect cases in military families in the years since America went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In many cases, military personnel were blamed for failing to report cases of abuse and neglect to Family Advocacy Program (FAP) officials. FAP, designed by the Pentagon, aims to prevent child abuse in the ranks. It's a $200-million-a-year program.
Failure to report these suspected and known abuse cases often ends in severe injuries or even death of children.
America's longest wars already have been associated with poor mental health in military families, behavioral problems in children, a higher risk of divorce, and higher rates of suicide, studies show.Experts now add child abuse to that tragic list.
"We have a relatively high rate of child maltreatment," said Dr. Sharon Cooper, a pediatrician and retired Army colonel who treats child abuse victims at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. "And we know that child abuse and neglect is highly influenced by deployment."
In the last five years, the rate of child abuse and fatality in the military has gone up sharply -- from 4.8 incidents per 1,000 children to 7.2 incidents, according to Pentagon records.
Congress recently passed a national defense authorization bill that includes a provision that requires military personnel to immediately report suspected cases of child abuse to FAP and to state child protection agencies.
Click SOURCE to read this entire story originally reported by DAVID S. CLOUD, TRIBUNE WASHINGTON BUREAU