Staff members from the Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany Child Development Center lead their pre-kindergarten class during a musical selection at the installation’s Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention program Thursday morning. The base has activities planned throughout the month to promote child abuse prevention.
MCLB-ALBANY -- Child abuse is a problem seen in every community.
Recognizing that the military community is not an exception to this, Albany's military installation is taking a stand against it.
Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany and local community officials observed National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month with a proclamation signing ceremony on the installation Thursday morning.
"The base is part of the local community," said Brenda Ray, health and prevention coordinator for Marine and Family Services on the base, of the significance of the Marine Corps being involved in the cause. "If you have cases in the community, you will likely have issues on the base.
"Along with other things, (those aboard MCLB-Albany) are dealing with the stress of being Marines, being parents, being away from families ... the list goes on and on. We have the same kind of issues here that the rest of the country has. Child abuse does touch the Marine Corps."
The ceremony, taking place in front of the base's Marine and Family Services Building, began with a fun run by MCLB-Albany and Marine Corps Logistics Command Marines.
The guest speaker for this year's observance was Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard.
"I am here because I believe it still takes a village to raise a child," the grandmother of six said. "We need to know what is happening to our children.
"No matter what the circumstances, it is wrong to mistreat any human being, especially children, because of how powerless they are."
The Georgia Department of Human Services gives definitions of child abuse and neglect. Physical abuse is considered "injury to a child under age 18 by a parent or caretaker, which results in bruises, welts, fractures, burns, cuts or internal injuries." Neglect is defined as "the failure of the parent or caretaker to see that the child is adequately supervised, fed, clothed, housed or provided medical care."
Sexual abuse is defined as "when a parent or other adult uses a child under age 18 for sexual stimulation." The department's website also notes that there is a subset of people mandated to report child abuse, a list that includes educators, therapists and school counselors, medical personnel as well as anyone else working in child welfare services.
"Historically, child abuse was not defined or recognized," Hubbard said. "....We have come a long way, and we hear of child abuses cases almost every day. Lawyers, judges (and others) are working full-time on child abuse these days.
"Child abuse is something we should not hide, and we should not be a party to it. It is a problem that will not go away; we must take some action to make sure it is stopped."
Hubbard also went on to say how actively preventing child abuse is part of one's obligation to society.
"We have a debt to society, and the more you pay, the more you owe," she said. "You can be an example for children and leave a legacy to follow. I am challenging to you to think of how you can impact our childrens' lives.
"Child abuse knows no racial boundaries or economic status. I am challenging you to use your knowledge as parents to recognize the signs of child abuse, host educational seminars and be a part of a community that fosters healthy children."
At the ceremony, there was a reading and signing of a proclamation as well as musical selections by the MCLB-Albany Child Development Center's pre-kindergarten class.
The theme for this year is "Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting Well-Being: A Network of Action." Thursday's event kicked off a month of educational activities aboard the base to promote child abuse awareness and prevention.
Statistics from the Georgia Court Appointed Special Advocates website shows that there are 207 child abuse and neglect incidents reported in the state daily. Seventy-seven Georgia children died from abuse and neglect in 2010.
Data from the same website also gives statistics on a national level, which show that the economic cost of child abuse is estimated to be $103 billion a year.