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Program aims to keep military kids “safe and sound”

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - -- Most parents consider safe and sound the ideal state for their children. Being vigilant toward a child's activities and whereabouts is a no brainer for parents, who don't intend to neglect their kids. But what if neglect is taking place, unnoticed right in front of them?

Child neglect is a frightening term most parents don't want to think about, but the Military Community and Family Policy says that in reality, child neglect is more common than realized, even among military families. In fact, incidents of child neglect in the military increased 52 percent, to 7.3 per 1,000 children, since 2009. Neglect accounts for more than half the reported abuse cases. The issue is a serious one for the Department of Defense because neglect is tough for parents to recognize.

In response to the problem, the DoD introduced the Safe and Sound Campaign, administered by the MC&FP through Military OneSource. Through outreach, social media and web resources, the campaign is aimed at educating parents in three areas: Physical and environmental hazards, distracted parenting, and inadequate child supervision.

The campaign rolled out in fall 2015, primarily focusing on three locations. Those locations - Marine Corps. Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia; and Fort Carson/Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs - were selected by their respective service branches based on the rate of child neglect at the installations. Other selection criteria included ratio of military to the general population within 25 miles, and size of the parental population among others.

"Safe and Sound is important for us at Peterson, because this program can reach people in a way that, even with the best outreach efforts, the Family Advocacy Program cannot," said Jeanette Barzee, Family Advocacy Program outreach manager.

Because neglect is not always intentional, it can take place unawares.

"Child safety risks can be hard to see sometimes," said Mary MC&FP, Office of Family Readiness Policy, Family Advocacy Program analyst. "Military OneSource's Safe and Sound campaign is focused on helping military parents understand and reduce easy-to-overlook risks, while connecting them with parenting support through a variety of programs available at Peterson Air Force Base."

Safe and Sound's child supervision guidelines connect parents with information about Colorado's and PAFB's guidelines for leaving children unattended, as well as available child care options. For example, parents might be unaware that children under the age of 10 cannot be left home alone without the care of a sitter for more than two hours at Peterson. Parents who want to leave their 12-year-old home to watch younger siblings must get the child Home-Alone training, offered at the R. P. Lee Youth Center.

Where environmental hazards are concerned, Hazards Around the Home gives parents suggestions to make their children's environment safe and child-friendly. Using simple tips and an easy-to-use home safety checklist reinforce the effort.

One useful tip, from Military OneSource, is for parents to get down on the floor to view dangerous things from their child's point of view. Parents can touch, reach and get into things, like loose medication or laundry pods, as the child would. Another suggestion is to secure the home's window screens properly to prevent children from falling through them.

Distracted Parenting resources help parents learn ways to balance daily activities and minimize distractions from technology and other challenges of military life. Military OneSource informs parents that it's important to take time for themselves, but not to put their children in danger, or miss out on important parts of their lives, because they weren't paying attention.

The Safe and Sound focus on awareness runs through September 2016, however the resources, programs and services will remain available following the campaign.

To connect with services and programs for parents and military families at PAFB, contact Family Advocacy at (719) 556-8943 or Airmen & Family Readiness at (719) 556-6141, or call Military OneSource at 800-342- 9647.
Safe and Sound:
Airman & Family Readiness:
Military OneSource Facebook Page:

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