Soldiers’ deployments are associated with an increase in child abuse

The deployment of soldiers is a very difficult time for families. This can turn out to be a particularly risky time for children. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia reported on Nov. 13, 2015, there is a rise in child abuse in association with the deployment of soldiers. Researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have come to this conclusion after performing a study analyzing child abuse and neglect seen in Army families.

The researchers say that kids under 2 years old may be at an increased risk for abuse and neglect during the six months which immediately follows a parent’s return home from deployment in the U.S. Army. This risk may rise even more in Army families with soldiers who are deployed more than one time.

In previous research risk of child abuse was seen during the time parents were deployed in the military. This was due primarily to supervisory neglect while the parents were overseas according to the study’s senior author, David M. Rubin, MD. The new study has revealed this risk after parents are deployed. This has demonstrated increased stress after a soldier comes home may potentially have very real and horrible consequences for many military families.

Karl F. Schneider, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, says although incidents of child abuse and neglect seen in military families are lower than that seen in the general population this study serves as an indicator of the stress which deployments place on soldiers, their family members and caregivers. Schneider says the Army has enacted many new programs to meet these kinds of challenges. The Army is continuing to work on better services to offer services and support for soldiers, families, and their kids.

This study has been published in the American Journal of Public Health. The researchers have confirmed there is an increased risk for child maltreatment while soldiers are deployed. Now they have also identified a high-risk period during the 6 months after deployment. This indicates there is increased stress seen within families of deployed soldiers and in families with soldiers returning home. With these considerations in mind it’s certainly a good idea for the military to continue to determine manners to decrease the risk of abuse for children in military families.