The risk of child abuse rises after Army Deployment according to a new study ran by scientists in the Policy Lab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The results of the study indicate that children of United States soldiers that are coming back home after deployment face an increased risk of abuse and neglect within the first six months following their parent’s return.
The project is one of the largest studies analyzing rates of child abuse in military households ever to be conducted and was funded by the Defense Health Program in order to not only assess the risk of abuse in Army families but also to provide information that could help develop support programs meant to both prevent the occurrence of child maltreatment and to support victims of it.
The study is the first of its kind to reveal that there has been an increase in the risk of child abuse or neglect in cases where soldiers with young children are returning home from deployment. David Rubin, who is the co-director of Policy Lab and one of the study’s authors, has stated that the findings clearly prove how the increased levels of stress that affect soldiers upon their return home can have devastating consequences for some military families.
In order to gather data for the study, the scientists examined more than 112.000 military families of soldiers who had children up to two years old between the years 2001 and 2007, when the Iraq War was unfolding.
Researchers focused on instances of abuse from parents and guardians which had been confirmed by the Department of Defense and used data from Army databases to extract information on two measurements of abuse: child maltreatment reports substantiated by evidence and medical diagnoses that proved the existence of child maltreatment.
According to Rubin, the information the study has managed to gather will help the military define new procedures in order to intervene more efficiently and help soldiers that are returning home to cope with the stress that occurs after deployment. The study has provided key insight into when these stress levels are highest and how they can negatively affect soldiers as well as their families.
The research was focused on children up to two years of age as they are most at risk of abuse and neglect. It was also found that the risk of abuse doubled in the case of a parent going on a second deployment and that the highest rate of abuse occurred during the second deployment and was usually committed by a different caregiver and not the soldier himself.
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