by Senior Airman Stephanie Sauberan
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
4/21/2014 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- -- When
raising children, parents will often do their best to ensure they are
giving them the proper care and attention needed to grow into strong
healthy adults. Many parents would never dream of abusing or neglecting
their children. However, the definitions of abuse and neglect in the
civilian sector do not necessarily carry over to military life, and some
military parents may be found guilty of these crimes without knowing
they had been committing them.
According to Air Force Maltreatment Definitions, there are four basic
types of maltreatment: emotional abuse, neglect, physical abuse and
Emotional abuse of a child includes, but is not limited to, berating a
child, humiliation, threatening the child and excessive discipline.
Neglect is defined as egregious acts or omissions on the part of the
child's caregiver that deprives the child of needed age-appropriate
care. Examples of neglect include lack of supervision, exposing a child
to physical hazards, educational neglect, neglecting to provide a child
with proper health care, deprivation of necessities such as food and
shelter as well as abandonment.
Abandonment occurs when a caregiver is absent and does not intend to
return or is away from the home for more than 24 hours without arranging
for an appropriate surrogate caregiver.
Physical abuse is defined as the non-accidental use of physical force on
the part of a child's caregiver. Examples of physical abuse include,
but are not limited to, shaking a child, pushing or shoving, slapping,
hitting a child with an object or restraining a child.
However, acts committed to protect a child from immediate physical harm,
such as grabbing a child to prevent them from being struck by a car,
are not classified as physical abuse.
Sexual abuse is defined as sexual activity by an alleged abuser with a
child for the purpose of sexual gratification of the child, the alleged
abuser or any other person. Examples of sexual abuse include, but are
not limited to, exploitation such as photographs, molestation and sexual
assault or rape.
In many cases parents who are suspected of maltreatment towards their
children will be referred to the Family Advocacy Clinic on base.
"Allegations come to us through either self-referral, third interest
party, Ward County, medical, or Command," said 1st Lt. Natasha Hilts,
5th Medical Operations Squadron alternate Family Advocacy officer. "At
that point, I will review the allegation with the administrative staff
to determine if it meets the threshold to take the case and decide if it
is egregious and whether it fits within the definitions of abuse or
If a case meets the threshold, Family Advocacy will open an incident
notify the Office of Special Investigations; the base legal office; the
5th Security Forces Squadron; and Command, said Hilts. Ward County
Social Services is also notified if children are involved. FA will then
conduct interviews with all beneficiaries within 3 days of opening the
"FA then gathers any collateral information and adds it to the file,"
said Hilts. "We are required to take that information to the Central
Registry Board within 60 days of receipt of referral."
On the board sits the Vice Wing Commander, Command Chiefs, OSI, a base
legal representative, A 5th SFS representative, Command, and the Family
Based on the definitions and criteria of abuse and neglect, the board
votes to see if the case "Meets or Does Not Meet Criteria" for
"If a case does not meet criteria then we close the case at the next
staffing and make recommendations for prevention, such as anger
management class or parenting classes," said Hilts. "If it does meet
criteria then we begin officially working with the patients depending on
For example, in a case concerning child maltreatment, FA focuses on
educating parents on punishment vs. discipline and appropriate
discipline behaviors, said Hilts. If the parents comply with the
recommendations, attend all the classes recommended and FA personnel see
progress and improvement the case will be closed and marked as
If the patients are not engaged, FA attempts three times to reach them.
Additionally, FA gives their leadership a courtesy notification and
closes the case as unresolved if they do not receive support from that
member's leadership, Hilts explained.
FA members have no legal authority to make participants engage, nor can
they take children out of the home, Hilts clarified. The power to remove
children from a home falls under Ward County's realm of authority.
Although, FA can make those recommendations if they feel the children
Though FA cannot physically remove children from a home, they are one of
the last agencies to review a case before it reaches the board, and
ultimately may make the final recommendation that leads to parents
losing their children, said Hilt.
The consequences for a closed or unresolved case are: ineligibility to
receive Pacific Air Force orders or overseas assignments; no
volunteering with children; and their next commander can deny Permanent
Change's of Station as they see fit.
"We offer so many options to squadrons in regards to child abuse and
neglect," said Hilt. We are here to help and it never needs to get to
the point of maltreatment."