Child Abuse Prevention Month 2021 Toolkit

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the Department of Defense is observing this national awareness campaign in partnership with the military services. The resources on this page will help service providers and leaders:

  • Raise awareness of the Family Advocacy Program as a resource to help keep children safe through parent education and support, and as a key partner in reporting child abuse and neglect
  • Increase awareness of parent training resources that help prevent abuse and neglect
  • Provide kids affected by abuse and neglect with resources, safety tips and support
  • Show the community how everyone plays a role to promote a climate in which military youth are safe and healthy

The 2021 campaign, “All In to End Child Abuse,” shows the DOD’s commitment to involving every member of the military community in supporting and protecting military children. Our MilKids are priority one. It’s time to join forces and go #AllInToEndChildAbuse.

The focus of this campaign is to provide resources that educate parents and involve the community, as well as empower military youth to ask for help from a trusted adult if they or a friend aren’t safe at home.

If you are participating in this campaign in your community, refer to and download the Child Abuse Prevention Month 2021 Messaging and Resources Guide: All In to End Child Abuse for more information and messaging.

Shareable social media

Include social media in your campaign efforts to engage your military community. Schedule your own posts during April from the Child Abuse Prevention Month 2021 Social Media Toolkit. Share posts throughout April from the following sites:

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Shareable resources

Customizable banners by service branch

Support Your Teen to Have Safe and Healthy Relationships

High school students smiling and laughing together

As a parent, you want your children to be safe, healthy and happy. And while forming relationships and developing romantic feelings for their peers is a natural part of growing up, relationship abuse is common, and can start early. One of the best ways to be a supportive parent is to know the facts from the start.

  • One in three high school students and one in five middle school students will experience some form of abuse inflicted by the person they are dating ─ whether it be physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse or controlling behavior.
  • Individuals generally first encounter relationship abuse when they are between the ages of 11 and 24.

Help put your teen on track to have a healthy relationship with these behaviors:

  • Build and maintain your child’s trust by setting healthy boundaries and honoring them, and by actively listening to them.
  • Discuss with them what makes a healthy relationship.
  • Help them learn to recognize what makes a relationship unhealthy or abusive.
  • Teach and reinforce the importance of consent.

Build and maintain your child’s trust.

Your teen will trust you to be there whenever they need support when you:

  • Respect their decisions even when you don’t agree with them.
  • Support them without judgment, especially if they make a poor decision.
  • Listen to their concerns, opinions and the things that matter to them.
  • Guide them on how to find good solutions for their life challenges.

Discuss with your teen what makes a healthy relationship.

To build a healthy relationship, both partners should:

  • Be respectful
  • Trust the other
  • Be honest
  • Communicate
  • Enjoy personal time with and away from the other (both partners maintain some of their independence)
  • Have equal say in financial decisions
  • Make choices in the relationship (not one-sided)
  • Practice consent

Chat about relationships you are both aware of and what healthy qualities you see in those relationships, based on actions you’ve observed.

Find more information on healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships from reliable sources, such as thehotline.org and youth.gov.

Help them learn to recognize what makes a relationship unhealthy or abusive.

Let your teen know that many times, dating abuse begins with the would-be abuser testing their partner’s stated boundaries and ignoring their requests to stop. Unwanted teasing, excessive jealousy or possessiveness, and direct harassment are forms of emotional abuse and can set the stage for potential physical violence.

Despite what abusers may say, these boundary-pushing behaviors are not normal, and they are not a sign of love. Restating and enforcing personal boundaries with a partner is not disrespectful or unloving behavior.
Basic respect and mutual consent form the basis of all healthy relationships, especially with romantic partners.

Teach and reinforce the importance of consent

As a parent, one of the most important things you can do to set your child up for healthy and successful relationships is to make sure they understand consent in the context of physical and sexual boundaries. These lessons can and should start early, so that by the time your child is a teen they are familiar with the concept. It’s always a good idea to remind your teen of the basic principles of consensual and respectful behavior:

  • Always ask for permission before engaging in sexual behavior, and remember that consent for previous sexual activity doesn’t automatically mean consent is given for future sexual acts.
  • Everyone has the right to say “yes” or “no” each time, no matter how long they’ve been together with their partner.
  • Check in with your partner and be attuned to their comfort level when interacting with them. Are they nervous or anxious in any way? Could some of your attention be interpreted as pressure?
  • It is never OK to threaten or pressure someone into unwanted sexual activity. The absence of a verbal “no” does not mean a free-and-clear “yes.”

Keep in mind the risks of technology

You’ve probably noticed your teen is often on their phone, a computer or tablet (likely so are you!). The internet has become a permanent fixture of our daily lives, routines and social interactions, and most of us ─ including young people ─ use social media, texting and email to stay connected to our partners.

Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that technology is frequently a pathway for abuse and harassment. Make sure your teen understands that put-downs, excessive texting, calling, emailing or messaging, and threats by a partner to share private or sensitive images, are all forms of relationship abuse.

To learn more about the technology risks young people face and tips for reporting abuse, check out these resources:

LGBTQ Youth and Relationship Abuse

If your teen is LGBTQ, they may be at risk for additional forms of relationship abuse, particularly if they are not yet “out” with their sexual orientation or gender identity. As a parent, the best thing you can do for your child is to be supportive and nonjudgmental, and to let them know you are there for them unconditionally.

Where to find help

Whether you’re concerned for your teen, yourself or someone else you care about regarding dating violence, help is available. If you are mistreated by your partner, don’t be ashamed. It’s not your fault, and you’re not alone. Keep yourself safe while you get help and decide what to do.

Remind teens that they can seek help from you, teachers, guidance counselors or trained peer advocates, who are available by phone at 866-331-8453 or by texting “loveis” to 22522. Teenagers can also check out That’s Not Cool for information, games and tools such as the Respect Effect app, which can help them take action to prevent teen dating violence.

Adults and teens can seek help through the National Domestic Violence Holtline at 800-799-7233 or chat online at thehotline.org. You can also contact Military OneSource online or via phone at 800-342-9647 and talk to a consultant, who can refer you to someone in your local community who can help. OCONUS/International? Check out the calling options. Contact the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255, then press 1, or access online chat by texting 838255.

Problematic Sexual Behavior in Children and Youth Toolkit

This page is an online centralized place for content for all professionals involved in the prevention and response to Problematic Sexual Behavior in Children and Youth across the military community. The Department of Defense has provided direct links for all training, fact sheets, guides and other learning opportunities to enhance your professional understanding and skills in working with children, youth and families impacted by PSB-CY.

Materials include those developed by the DOD, as well as external organizations. While training may not be mandatory, it is strongly recommended to provide support that is trauma-informed, aligned with the current evidence and developmentally attuned.

Background

Problematic sexual behavior in children and youth is defined as behavior, initiated by children younger than 18, that involves using sexual or private body parts in a manner that is developmentally inappropriate or potentially harmful to the individual or individuals impacted by the behavior.

A new DOD policy expands the responsibility of the Family Advocacy Program to address PSB-CY. This change in policy allows the program to support families whose children or adolescents have exhibited, or been impacted by concerning or problematic sexual behavior, and convene a multidisciplinary team to manage the coordinated community response and recommend a safe way forward for all involved.

For Parents – Understanding Child Sexual Development and Concerning Sexual Behaviors

Resources and Trainings for Helping Professionals

Tools for Helping Professionals

Resources for Clinicians

 

Combat Human Trafficking — Service Providers and Leaders Toolkit

Trafficking in persons, or human trafficking, is a crime in the United States and globally. The Department of Defense is committed to ending this human rights violation through the Combating Trafficking in Persons program.

Human trafficking includes sex trafficking, forced labor and child soldiering. Though it may seem like these abuses happen only in faraway places, trafficking in persons occurs in the United States as well. The military community can do its part to prevent human trafficking, by:

The first step is learning about Combating Trafficking in Persons. You can explore the resources provided on this page, or visit the program webpage, which provides information, training and resources.

Courses

Take the following courses to learn more about human trafficking:

Joint Knowledge Online provides 24/7 access to the online courses above and more web-based training. You can access these on military classified and unclassified networks. Information on JKO is found at http://jko.jten.smil.mil for classified and http://jko.jten.mil for unclassified access. Direct access to JKO courses is available with a Common Access Card or login and password by going directly to https://jkodirect.jten.mil or http://jkolms.jten.smil.mil.

You can self-register for a JKO account if you have a CAC. If you don’t have a CAC but have a government or military email account (ending in .mil, .gov, nps.edu, or dodea.edu), you may obtain a login and password account. If you do not have a CAC or government or military email account, you may request a sponsored account. You can find a link to request the sponsored account on the JKO login page.

Resources

Check out the following resources to learn more about human trafficking, including DOD official policy:

Contacts

If you see or suspect trafficking in persons, report it.

A Safe Space for Relationship Help: The Family Advocacy Program

Young woman thinking

It’s important to know where you can go for safe, judgment-free help when you are feeling unsafe in your relationship. Caring assistance is available through the Family Advocacy Program.

Everyone who experiences domestic abuse has a unique set of circumstances and concerns. Through your installation’s Family Advocacy Program, you can meet with a victim advocate with a deep understanding about the challenges of seeking help for domestic abuse. The role of a victim advocate is to be there for you, to hear you and to offer help and resources.

Find Support Today

Take care of yourself today by talking with a victim advocate, who can show you options you might not be aware of and provide the support you are seeking.

You’ll talk, we’ll listen

When you call (or visit) your Family Advocacy Program to reach a victim advocate, they will welcome you in.

Connect with a victim advocate through your local FAP office. You can decide how much of your story to share in the first conversation.

When you call to speak with a victim advocate, they will want to know if you are in a safe place to talk, and can discuss ways for you to maintain your safety as you seek information and support for your situation.

To help, your advocate will need to know what you’ve experienced. They will listen to you without judgment to find out what you have been through and what you want to happen going forward.

It may be difficult to talk about what you’ve experienced, but it will allow you to voice concerns about your relationship in a safe space. It may help to start by explaining a recent event or by talking about your experiences in a timeline of your relationship.

You have options, and we’ll explain them

The Family Advocacy Program offers victim-centered and victim-led assistance. Translation? Your victim advocate will never pressure you to make a decision you are uncomfortable with. You are in charge of your life and your choices.

You don’t have to be experiencing a crisis to meet with a victim advocate — they can support you regardless of what stage you are at in your relationship. It is never too early to reach out to a victim advocate to ask questions and learn what help is available.

Make sure to tell your advocate what steps you’re ready to take, so they can provide informed support. By understanding your specific situation, your victim advocate will get a better idea of how they can help. They will explain the options you have for reporting and support, after which you can choose what is best for you and your family.

If you decide to report domestic abuse, there are two military reporting options: restricted and unrestricted. Your victim advocate can explain these options in specific detail according to your situation. They can walk you through what each option would look like for you and your family to help you understand the difference and decide what works best for you.

You choose your path, we’ll provide the resources

Victims of domestic abuse come from different family situations and have different experiences and needs. Some may choose to stay in the relationship and try to work things out. Others may choose to leave the relationship. Whatever path you choose, your FAP victim advocate will provide you with the support you need.

Develop a relationship with your victim advocate

Remember that when you connect with your victim advocate, it doesn’t have to be a one-time conversation. They are there as long as you need them to help you find safety, support and healing. Through the Family Advocacy Program, your advocate will work with you to:

  • Promote your safety, well-being and choices
  • Access appropriate treatment for you and other affected family members
  • Identify and build on your and your family’s strengths
  • Increase protective factors to help reduce your risk of future abuse
  • Connect with civilian resources and domestic violence programs

Specifically, your FAP advocate can facilitate connections for you to receive assistance for things like finding immediate lodging, medical care, legal counsel, a job or a new home.

As you continue to meet with your victim advocate, ask them questions you may have forgotten about on your first visit. Let them know your concerns and fears so they can address those, too. Your advocate can work with you to create a plan for your future.

Think of talking to your victim advocate as you would talking to a friend, only a friend who is removed from your situation and who has expertise in your area of need.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, contact the Family Advocacy Program to learn about your options and the resources available to you. You can also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.

Staying Safe While Staying Healthy: Tips for Military Families

Two young girls cooking in a kitchen

Current as of Sept. 25, 2020


The Department of Defense is committed to keeping you and your family safe 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. The coronavirus pandemic is no exception.

During this uncertain and unpredictable time, there are ways to promote the safety, health, and well-being of yourself, your spouse or partner, and your children — even if your family unit is feeling tested or strained. Emergencies, unexpected events and disruptions to our workplace and home can increase stress and put added pressure on our family and personal relationships. You may have increased anxiety about the health and safety of family members who are deployed, or worried about older parents who live far away.

To reduce the threat of COVID-19, we have all been asked to modify our habits and activities. If self-quarantine and social distancing have made you or your children feel anxious, stressed or even depressed, know that you are not alone. There are practices you can take to reduce your stress, increase your safety, and still allow your connections with friends, loved ones and your community to thrive.

Need More Parenting Resources During COVID-19?

You may be looking for new ideas for managing children at home during the pandemic. Try this updated list of extensive parenting resources.

Maintain your daily routine.

For the mental wellness of both you and your children, it is a good idea to stick to your usual routine as much as possible while homebound.

Going to bed and getting up in the morning at your normal time, sharing meals as a family, and sticking to an exercise regime you can do indoors or outside on your own, or with your kids or partner, are all ways to stay resilient. Sticking to a routine is also especially nurturing for young children.

Learn about creating and maintaining routines »

Take steps to promote child safety in the home.

If you have made the decision to self-quarantine, your family may not be used to being home together at all times.

To reduce risk of accidents or injuries to your children, take care to make sure any dangerous or potentially deadly items are safely stored, locked, and inaccessible to children. These items may include certain medications, chemical detergents or bleaches used for cleaning (for especially young children) or firearms.

Get tips on safe firearm storage from the Defense Suicide Prevention Office »

This is a new and frightening time for all of us, kids and adults alike.

There are ways to communicate the seriousness of the pandemic to your children, while taking care not to alarm them. Child development experts have recommendations for how you approach this conversation with your children.

Get recommendations for conversations about COVID-19 with your children »

Remember the importance of self-care.

Taking time to create daily rituals for yourself is a vital strategy to preserve and strengthen your mental health during this challenging time.

Self-care is unique to you, whether that’s a quiet bath, a jog, or even video-chatting with friends and loved ones. By making your well-being a priority, you are building the resilience you need to guide your kids and your family through this period.

Read about the pillars of wellness »

Talk to someone.

It is normal to feel scared and lonely during this time, even while at home surrounded by your children. You can strengthen your coping skills by taking advantage of Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations that can help with communication, relationships and so much more.
If you are feeling hopeless or disconnected, there are a number of options for you to speak with someone who can help. A great first step is Military OneSource, where you can speak with a confidential, non-medical counselor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Military OneSource counselors are available to talk with you about any concern, big or small, and can also connect you with other helping professionals, like the Family Advocacy Program.

Learn more about confidential, non-medical counseling »

Seek help.

If self-quarantine and social distancing have made you or your children feel less safe, know that you are not alone.

If you are quarantined with a spouse or partner who threatens, intimidates you, or makes you feel afraid, call your installation’s Family Advocacy Program. Family Advocacy Program staff can help you think through ways to stay safe while staying at home, or plan to stay with a friend or family member.

Learn more about the Family Advocacy Program »

You may wish to consult the tips from the National Domestic Violence Hotline regarding COVID-19, or call 800-799-7233 to speak with an advocate, or chat with someone at thehotline.org.

The coronavirus national emergency and global pandemic is causing difficulty and uncertainty for everyone. The military community will get through this challenge together, and the Department of Defense and Military OneSource are standing by to help.

For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19:

For PCS-related updates, check Move.mil »

Navigating Relationship Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Girl holding a phone

Current as of Sept. 25, 2020

Safety Alert: Computer use can be monitored and it is impossible to completely clear your browser history. If you are afraid your internet usage might be monitored, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 en Español.

The Department of Defense is committed to the safety and well-being of service members, their partners and families 24/7/365. The national emergency spurred by COVID-19 is no exception. To tackle the threat, public health leaders are calling on all of us to modify our behaviors, change our daily routines, and make sacrifices to curb the outbreak.

However, some recommendations, like social distancing and self-isolating at home, may be especially challenging for individuals who do not feel safe in their relationships with their spouse or partner, particularly if they live with that person. For some relationships, the added stress brought on by the pandemic, which could include financial implications, may also bring out unhealthy or even abusive behaviors.

Support is always available

No matter what your personal situation is, the military community has resources to support you. Whether you’re questioning your partner’s behavior toward you or looking for ways to manage your safety and maintain your boundaries at home, help is available and you are not alone.

Take time for self-care

To the extent possible, make time for yourself with daily rituals that provide you with mental and emotional space, even joy. Making your well-being a priority can help you build the resilience you need to guide yourself (and your children, if you have them) through this challenging period.

Stay connected with friends and family

While you are removed from your social network and community due to quarantine, be sure to keep in touch via email, text, phone, or other means. Maintaining these connections can boost your mental and emotional health, and also help to keep you safe.

It is especially important to stay in touch with loved ones while you are at home with an abusive partner. Check in with them every day to let them know you are OK. Make sure they know how to reach you in an emergency. You may also want to develop a code word or phrase that indicates you are in danger, so they discreetly know when to send help.

Be advised, however, that some abusers may monitor computer and cell phone activity. Learn more about safe internet browsing and practice those tips every time you browse. 

Learn tips for cell phone safety »

Create a safety plan

Even if unhealthy behaviors in your relationship have not escalated to violence or abuse, it is a good idea to develop strategies for finding space to be away from your partner. A safety plan is a personalized checklist that helps you to identify ways to maintain your welfare, your children’s and your pet’s if you need time and space apart from your spouse or partner.
Victim advocates at your installation’s Family Advocacy Program are available by phone to help you map out safe places to go, if needed, like a friend or family member’s house. If you already have a safety plan, consider calling FAP to connect with a victim advocate who can help adapt it to your current situation.

Find contact information for your Family Advocacy Program and Victim Advocate Services »

The National Domestic Violence Hotline also offers information on safety plans specific to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Get help in an emergency

Yes, it is important to self-quarantine during this time to the extent possible. But be assured that frontline professionals, including law enforcement, are available to help you in a crisis.

Call 911 if you are in immediate danger, or if your partner or spouse has threatened you, your children, or someone you know. If you are on a military installation, call your military law enforcement office.

If you are feeling panicked, stressed, anxious or depressed about your relationship while you remain at home, support and counseling is available.

  • Contact Military OneSource any time to arrange for non-medical counseling.
  • Call the support staff at your installation’s FAP. They are ready to listen and provide assistance.
  • Connect 24/7 with an advocate at the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 800-799-7233, or chat online at thehotline.org.

It is natural for all relationships to feel tested during an emergency or crisis. If your spouse or partner has made you feel unsafe or afraid, help is available through the Family Advocacy Program. Speak to a victim advocate to explore next steps, or call or chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7, at 800-799-7233 or thehotline.org.

Family Advocacy Program – The Essentials

Child hold cut out paper of family holding hands

The Family Advocacy Program is the Department of Defense program designated to address domestic abuse, child abuse and neglect, and problematic sexual behavior in children and youth. FAP works on every military installation where families are assigned, and supports service members and their spouses, partners and families to prevent abuse, promote victim safety and offer treatment and rehabilitation for healing after a traumatic event has occurred.

Learn more about how FAP works, how to get help and additional options for assistance in the event you, your child or someone you care about is impacted by violence or abuse.

What to Expect When Meeting with a Victim Advocate

The Family Advocacy Program offers a safe space for relationship help.

How the Family Advocacy Program works

Relevant Articles:

Domestic abuse and intimate partner violence

The DOD does not tolerate domestic abuse, and the military community respects, supports and defends victims of abuse. Through FAP, each of the military services is committed to promoting a culture of support for victims, and works with service members and their families to promote the rehabilitation of individuals who use violence in their relationships by teaching them healthy behaviors. Victim safety is always the No. 1 priority.

Understanding the military response to domestic abuse

Getting help for domestic abuse and intimate partner violence

  • Use the victim advocacy search tool to find the FAP victim advocate closest to you
  • Call Military One Source to be connected to your nearest FAP, 800-342-9647
  • Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, or chat with an advocate at thehotline.org

More about domestic abuse and intimate partner violence:

Relevant Articles:

Child abuse and neglect

The DOD does not tolerate child abuse or neglect, and is dedicated to ensuring the safety of every child in the military community. Through FAP, each of the military services works with service members and their families to promote nurturing, healthy environments for children and youth. When child maltreatment does occur, FAP swiftly responds and works with child protective services, command, parents, and law enforcement to secure the child’s safety.

Identifying and reporting child abuse and neglect

Relevant resources:

Getting help for child abuse and neglect

Problematic sexual behavior in children and youth

A new DOD policy expands the responsibility of its FAP to include addressing problematic sexual behavior in children and youth. This is defined as behavior, initiated by children and youth under the age of 18, that involves using sexual or private body parts in a manner that is developmentally inappropriate or potentially harmful to the individual or the individuals impacted by the behavior.

Identifying and reporting Problematic Sexual Behavior in Children and Youth

Getting help for PSB-CY