Photo Information

Col. Daniel J. Lecce, commanding officer of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, signs the proclaimation of April as Child Abuse Awareness Month during a ceremony at the Commander Springle Training Center, April 1. April is now officially used by the base's education and intervention specialists, who set up informational booths and offer unit training on child abuse, while providing resources and information for the community and the commands.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Damany S. Coleman

Child abuse: are you aware?

1 Apr 2011 | Lance Cpl. Damany S. Coleman

Abuse doesn’t report itself. Nor do young children who fall victim to abuse always have the means to get the proper help. To focus on the effects of child abuse and to raise child abuse awareness in the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune commands and community, April was declared as Child Abuse Awareness Month during a proclamation at the Commander Springle Training Center, April 1.

“For all of us that have children, when you have one of these child cases, it illicit a visceral response from us,” said Col. Daniel J. Lecce, commanding officer of Camp Lejeune. “How could you do that to a child?”

Lecce added that shining a light on child abuse awareness is the right way to go as far as making a change, but the base also needs to highlight sight of what is being done already.

With all the clinicians and technical support available for families, a parent should never feel that he or she has nowhere to turn for help.

“(Being a clinician) is definitely a hard job: the cases are complex and some of them are truly tragic,” said Lecce. “The reasons for abuse are also complex. We have kids raising kids – very young parents that can be lost themselves sometimes. We have to reach out to them because often, they won’t come for help. What the (personnel) do here is great for this base and this community.”

An education and intervention specialist with the training center, Gayloyce Willis, said awareness is important because children are the ‘unsung’ victims when it relates to the complications of abuse.

“People don’t talk about it and it happens in secrecy,” said Willis. “We also have younger parents than we have had in recent years. I think with information and awareness, we can help them understand what abuse is and how to avoid it. The more information they have, the more it will reduce the risk of a child being abused.”

Willis added that however awful abuse may be, the upside is that more information and resources are made readily available.

“Our job is to get these child abuse awareness campaigns in as many cracks and crevices as possible and try to prevent that abuse,” said Willis. “Even if one child is saved, it’s a big deal.”

Joelle Phillips, another education and intervention specialist, said the proclamation was also a part of letting families know about all the available services available on base.

“We have licensed, clinical social workers that are trained to help,” said Phillips. “A lot of people don’t seek the services, because they may not know they’re available. It’s free for active duty service members, their families and retirees.”

Phillips added that another aspect of their mission is to get parents the help they need before becomes a family advocacy case.

“Abuse doesn’t start with that initial strike, it starts early on, way before that,” said Phillips. “If they learned to recognize the types of abuse and when and where to get the proper help, they can deal with whatever issue is going on in the family. That will help reduce the number of cases that come to us and it puts us on the prevention side, which is our focus as well.”

For families who may need extra help with childcare in their homes, the in-home care providers can be a great help.

When it comes to any topic of abuse, prevention is in the forefront. The intervention specialists are educators as well, as they even schedule visits with various units aboard the base for specific information.

During this month’s Child Abuse Awareness campaign, the education and intervention specialists are slated to set up informational booths at the base library on Mondays and Thursdays. On Fridays, they will be at the Marine Corps Exchange with these displays, providing resources and information for the community and the commands.