My Coast Guard
Commentary | April 22, 2022

Let’s go all in to end abuse, increase awareness during Child Abuse Prevention Month

By Keisha Reynolds, MyCG Writer

In alliance with the Department of Defense, this year’s campaign theme is All in to End Child Abuse. This observance strives to raise awareness of ways to prevent child abuse and neglect, help you recognize the signs of abuse, as well as, provide you with the knowledge of what to do when we have concerns.

“We encourage the Coast Guard’s active and reserve members, civilian employees, and auxiliarists to proactively safeguard our children,” said Johanna MacGillivray, the Coast Guard’s Family Advocacy Program manager. “This observance is a reminder to pause  and acknowledge our responsibility to protect our children from abuse and neglect and when we suspect a child is in harm’s way, to take action.”

All children deserve to live in a safe, stable and nurturing environment in which they can  learn and thrive. Such environments promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families. According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, “The single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult.” Children with such an adult in their lives are significantly more likely to develop healthy coping skills, social behaviors, and are better prepared to deal with life’s challenges.

The strength and unity of our Coast Guard community presents a unique opportunity for this year’s campaign. Each of us can learn about the science of resilience and show our commitment to keeping military kids and families safe and strong by taking one of the following actions:

  • Be a stable force for the good in the life of a military child;
  • Encourage caregivers to use  resources and support to enhance parenting skills;
  • Recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect and take action;
  • Provide resources to help children and families heal from abuse; and
  • Encourage military parents and caregivers to practice self-care and seek help when they are overwhelmed. 

“Finding the time to de-stress and engage in activities that promote healthy coping skills is consistent with good parenting and caregiving. These are also important tools for keeping families strong and children safe,” said MacGillivray, “Our children are our future; they deserve our best.”

If you have concerns about a child’s safety, make sure you know what to do.

  • Call 911 or Military Law enforcement if a child is in immediate danger.
  • Call your local Family Advocacy Program at 202-475-5100 and follow the prompt
  • Call your Child Protective Services Office.
  • Call the National Child Abuse Hot Line at 800-422-4453.
  • Contact CGSUPRT at CGSUPRT.com or 855-247-8778.

Call to Action:  Coast Guard Members and Covered Professionals:

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, (Public Law 114-328), Section 575, requires military members, their dependents, and persons engaged in a profession or activity involving military members or dependents to report reasonable suspicion of child abuse to your local Family Advocacy Program (FAP) 202-475-5100 and to the National Child Abuse Help Line 800-422-4453. Reporting can be anonymous. If a child is in immediate danger call 911 or military law enforcement.

For additional information and resources contact: Johanna MacGillivray,LCSW, Family Advocacy Program manager at (202) 475-5161, or by email at: Johanna.MacGillivray@uscg.mil.  You may also contact Marshe Milbourne-Jackson, LPC, HSWL Service Center Family Advocacy Program coordinator at (757) 628-4374, or by email at Marshe.M.Milbourne-Jackson@uscg.mil

Relevant Resources: