April is recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month.  Preventing child abuse goes beyond the month of April in the Marine Corps community.  Every day, there is an opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child.  Even if you are not a parent, you play a vital role.  Offering support when you see a parent struggling can make all the difference in the world.  Being a parent is not easy; dealing with a deployment or a PCS can make parenting even more stressful.  Knowing what to do can be challenging when you are trying to help someone.  Here are a few tips that might be useful:

  1. Listen.  Sometimes people just need to vent and be heard.  Let them express their frustrations without judgement.  Remind them that there is no such thing as a perfect parent.  Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  2. Offer help.  Everyone needs a break sometimes.  Offer to make a dinner, have a cup of coffee, or take the kids on a walk.  This allows parents a moment to recharge their batteries and take care of themselves.
  3. Know your resources.  Resources are available on and off the base.  Know what is available so that you can share with someone else when needed.
  4. Say something.  People feel awkward and uncomfortable about saying something when they see a child in an unsafe situation.  It takes courage to make the right choice.  If you see something, say something.

There are a wide variety of resources available to help parents.  The New Parent Support Program is available to Marine Corps families who are expecting or have children ages 0 to 5.  The program provides support and education through home visitation, groups, and classes.  The Family Advocacy Program offers support to parents through groups, classes, and counseling services.  Military OneSource is also available for additional information and resources.