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Tuesday, 27 October 2015 13:27

'Safe and Sound' Campaign, 150K Strong, Draws Attention to Child Neglect

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A Department of Defense-sponsored online campaign, called "Safe and Sound," launched Oct. 9 to focus on the prevention of child abuse and neglect, especially in military families. Three days later, it had some 146,000 followers.

During the 2015 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., Oct. 12-14, Rosemary Williams, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy, discussed family resiliency as well as the DOD's social media campaign.

The Safe and Sound campaign, with the Twitter hashtag "#SafeandSound," is focused on child abuse and neglect.

"We're addressing three key areas here, [including] absent child supervision, physical or environmental hazards and distracted parenting - also known as electronic distraction," Williams explained. "This campaign will allow us to reach audiences beyond traditional social media or DOD-based websites."

The campaign also involves ads on news outlets and websites, including a popular parenting website.

The effort "will allow us to reach military families while they are seeking information on other aspects of their lives," Williams said.

Military resiliency is centered on the family, Williams said. In a recent article on DoDLive, "Domestic Violence Prevention: Everyone Deserves a Life Free of Abuse," she said the most vulnerable member of the family is the child. She also emphasized the importance of the campaign and encouraged Soldiers and other military members to participate.

Williams also encouraged open discussion in the military on the subject of resiliency, which is one of the key missions for Military Community and Family Policy, and advocated peer-to-peer support.

Corie Weathers, a licensed family counselor and 2015 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year, expanded on the subject of familial resiliency. She believes that the military can maintain resilient families through encouraging strong marriages. Having a supportive, communicative marriage helps guide families through tough times. If the Army supports marriages, it will, by extension, support families, Weathers explained.

"We need more leaders to step forward and talk about what it's like to make their families stronger and invest in their marriages," Weathers said. "We need you to [tell Soldiers] during your down time, during your training schedule, encourage your Families to go get counseling, go to retreats, or do what they need to do to take care of their Families."

That messaging and that effort should happen, she said, "even if it uses command funds."

Weathers also recommended more creative and innovative ways to support marriages, through retreats and counseling and other face-to-face connections.

Also on the panel was retired Maj. Gen. Mark Graham, who also highlighted the Vets4Warriors program. The nonprofit provides peer-to-peer, immediate assistance to service members. Their 24/7 hotline lets service members and retirees talk with military veterans for help with crisis situations. The program also conducts follow-up calls for as long as the caller needs.

If Soldiers are in crisis, or feel the need to reach out for help, there are many resources available to them, among those are:

- Vets4Warriors, 855-838-8255, www.vets4warriors.com
- National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-799-7233
- National Child Traumatic Stress Network, www.nctsnet.org
- Military One Source, 800-342-9647, militaryonesource.mil
- Safe and Sound Campaign, militaryonesource.mil/safe-and-sound
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-8255
- Family Advocacy Program branches on military installations, www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil

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