Health Team

Study: Child Abuse Rises During Deployment

Posted July 31, 2007

The children of soldiers are more likely to be maltreated when one parent is deployed, according to a new study.

The Department of Defense commissioned the study to determine if the military's support services for families are reaching enough people.

Data collected by the Army was analyzed at the Research Triangle Institute International and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Rates of child maltreatment at home increased when one spouse was in combat, according to the results published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"The rate of maltreatment by female parents, mothers or stepmothers, was more than three times greater during the soldier's deployment as it was during other times," the study author, Deborah Gibbs, said.

The most common abuse was physical neglect, such as not providing for children's basic needs or not providing adequate supervision for children.

Sally Hines said she's experienced the difficulty of raising two daughters with her husband away. He has been deployed to three times to Afghanistan and three times to Iraq, Hines said.

"It's hard. You try to be the best mother when the father is not there. Being a mother is one of the hardest jobs out there," Hines said.

The results show that military mothers need special services when fathers are deployed, said Gibbs, who works for RTI International and holds a Masters of Science in Public Health.

"These services must be delivered in a way that the parents who are most in need are going to be able to take advantage of them," said Gibbs.

Hines said that she gets help through support groups and friends. Staying focused on her daughters' needs helps her cope with her husband's absence, Hines said.

"They (her daughters) can be in a happy environment even when the parent, the second parent, is not at home," Hines said.


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  • wife-of-a-concrete-man Aug 2, 2007

    is this supposed to be an excuse for those idiots that do in fact mistreat the children?!!

    this is bull!

    as for single parents having the greatest parenting challenges- maybe so, that's still no excuse. there is NEVER any excuse.

    if one wishes to bring a child into this world, one should take the responsibility to raise that child and love that child, like it deserves, regardless of a spouse being in the home.

  • tarheelalum Aug 2, 2007

    Challenges...yes, but certainly not an excuse to NEGLECT YOUR CHILDREN. Don't forget that it is possible to criticize these mothers(majority) for being horrible parents and still support the troops.

  • ifonly Aug 1, 2007

    Sad, but not suprised.

  • Seeminglyopposed Aug 1, 2007


  • Seeminglyopposed Aug 1, 2007

    You didn't have to miss that if you have read past articles on the crines that are committed to these woman (Fayetteville) to be exact, when their husbands return wind up killing them for this behavior. I didn't say this article, look in archives for this type of behavior when these men return.

    Now, I see how some comments are taken out of context.....geeeeezzzzzzz!!

  • doodad Aug 1, 2007

    This study shows that chidren who have only one parent in the home are more likely to be mistreated and neglected.

    Single parents have the greatest parenting challenges, whether married with a displaced spouse, widowed, divorced or estranged.

  • briteside Aug 1, 2007

    Eyeswideshut - Where did it say in the article that these women want "to get their groove on when the husband is away"?

  • Brick Tamland Aug 1, 2007

    I don't think we needed a study to know this. It's sad, but it makes sense. I sometimes think it is selfish for some people to have kids if they are away from home all the time. Pro athletes, entertainers and military people probably have the worse record when it comes to marriage. All that stress and being away from each other takes its toll, and that includes the kids.

  • givemeabreak Aug 1, 2007

    I think the constant stress of not knowing if your partner is alive or not would be horrible. I do not think most are thinking ' how can I neglect or hurt my child today'. I think it is tough holding it all together and then you need to ask would these same people be having the same issues if they were not military.

  • tara126_99 Aug 1, 2007

    Did I miss where it said these women are off "getting their grove on"??