Child mistreatment: True or False? You decide!
On Aug. 1, 2007, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released a report entitled, "Child Maltreatment in Enlisted Soldiers' Families During Combat-Related Deployments"(Vol. 298, No. 5). This report sent shivers down most military spines. Waves of reporters rushed to cover the most succulent piece of "military meat" (other than the war) in months.
Sample these headlines and leads:
Fallout From the War at Home (July 31, 2007, Time.com)
"There is no doubt that war claims casualties of the innocent. But injury is not expected among those far from the war zone. A new study in the Aug. 1 issue of the Journal of American Medical Association reveals that many of those who suffer from armed conflict are living within the homes that deployed soldiers leave behind."
Army deployment's toll on kids studied (August 1, 2007, LAtimes.com)
"Child abuse and neglect -- overwhelmingly by female spouses left at home -- increase when one parent goes to war, researchers say.
Kids of deployed U.S. soldiers at risk (August 1, 2007, UPI)
"Children of U.S. enlisted soldiers experience greater rates of neglect and maltreatment during periods of combat-related deployments."
What these pieces fail to mention initially-if not entirely-is a paramount fact that strips this story of the front-page, top-fold status it was given. The actual JAMA study states, "Among families of enlisted soldiers in the US Army with substantiated reports of child maltreatment, rates of maltreatment are greater when the soldiers are on combat-related deployments."
What does that mean? Spouses who’ve previously neglected their children, when placed in the pressure cooker of deployment, are more likely to do it again-42 percent more likely, to be exact. The families in this study who showed increased occurrences of child maltreatment during deployment were already predisposed to do so.
What does the study not say? The study does not say that female military spouses are 42 percent more likely to neglect their children when faced with deployment.
As military wives, it’s our mission to band together and make it through wartime together.
With JAMA’s permission, we have provided a link to the abstract for this study:
How do you feel? Sound off! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let your voice be heard.
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I have been blessed with many TADs and duties, but no deployments. This being said, I know how difficult it is for the family left behind when a spouse goes on deployment. That being said, there is no excuse to ever make the children suffer. There is also no excuse to ignore a problem when you see one. Too often, people take the path of least resistance by convincing themselves it is "none of their business." Believe me. It IS your business. Everyone should make it their duty to report mistreatment, whether it's mistreatment of a child or mistreatment of a spouse. I pity those who can sleep at night when they know something is wrong with someone else.
If you suspect someone is being abused in any way, the least you should do is speak with them and ask them if they are okay. Most of the time, they will lie and say they are fine due to some misplaced sense of embarassment or loyalty. If you think this is the case, report the problem to an official.
Child abuse or spouse abuse, or mistreatment, is EVERYONE's problem.