The Army’s Hidden Epidemic of Child Abuse

Posted by admin on August 13, 2013

Major General Bob Dees, U.S. Army, Retired, Director of AACC’s Military Counseling Initiative

30,000 Army Kids Abused, 118 Killed…”Army Times Headline, July 29, 2013

While we often recognize the nobility of those who serve our nation in military uniform, we also must recognize the reality of significant challenges among our nation’s warriors and their families. In this case, the nobility of productive parenting has often been supplanted by the reality, the tragedy, of child abuse in the military.

The statistics in the Army alone are haunting—mirroring trends in suicide, domestic violence, military sexual trauma, homelessness, prescription drug abuse. There has been a 40% increase in Army child abuse cases from 2009 to 2012.

Take a look at these startling statistics from the Army Times (2013):

and those are just the numbers that were reported!

Army senior leadership is committing significant resources to address the symptoms of this child abuse epidemic, but the root causes spring from dysfunction in the home, inadequate parenting skills, unacceptably high incidence of child abuse in the civilian sector (typically higher than in the military), deployment and reintegration tensions, and continued disintegration of faith and family as primary ingredients in the successful acculturation, education and maturation of children.

These root causes do not lend themselves to rapid or simple solutions. They require political and moral courage by leaders at every level in the military to “swim upstream” against cultural factors which devalue the role of the traditional family and parenting, devalue the critical role of faith as a relevant resource for nurturing children, and cultivate the growing culture of violence in US society.

Child abuse is a criminal act for leaders and counselors to deal with appropriately. It is also a deeply immoral act which strikes to the very heart of decency in our society. Jesus certainly took a stance when he felt the little children were even “hindered.”

In Mark 10:13-16, we read, “And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, ‘Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.’ And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.”

Yes, Jesus certainly “loves the little children.” I can only imagine the righteous indignation He feels in light of today’s statistics regarding such parental irresponsibility.

Although not a pleasant subject, this challenge of military child abuse needs to be understood and addressed by Christian counselors across our land. Are you prepared as a counselor to be confronted by such challenges in the military families who walk in your door?

There are some important questions to consider in response to this epidemic…

Take a moment to share your thoughts below, or stop by the brand-new Military Counseling Initiative Facebook page to share your thoughts with our quickly-growing online community. AACC is committed to training competent Christian counselors to work with military couples and families in responding to this great need.

Interested in learning more about counseling military populations? Don’t miss AACC’s brand-new conference track at the 2013 World Conference, focused on The Military, Combat Trauma and Resiliency.

Workshops include…

Click here to view the complete list of workshops. Select your workshops today…seats are filling up fast!

Major General (Ret.) Bob Dees, M.S., is the Military Director for the American Association of Christian Counselors and oversees the Military Counseling Initiative Division. He also leads the Liberty University Institute for Military Resilience. Having commanded military units from platoon through division levels, he well understands the mental and behavioral health needs of our military and their families. As a frequent speaker, author of Resilient Warriors, and co-host with Dr. Tim Clinton of the popular Stress & Trauma Care video series, General Dees is a national leader regarding faith-based resilience programs for the military and beyond.