Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size

At-War Soldiers' Kids Suffer at Home

Child Neglect, Abuse: One Cost of Long, Repeated Military Deployments
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

July 31, 2007 - There's a hidden cost to today's long military deployments -- a price paid by soldiers' children.

That cost: Children in single-mother military households are much more likely to suffer neglect and abuse during deployments.

Research Triangle Institute researcher Deborah A. Gibbs, MSPH, and colleagues report the findings in the Aug. 1 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

"The overall rate of child maltreatment is 42% higher during soldier deployment than during other times. The increase occurred both for mild and for moderate-to-severe maltreatment," Gibbs tells WebMD. "Not surprisingly, this results from much higher rates of maltreatment by female civilian parents, because they are the ones left at home most often."

During deployments, the children of left-at-home moms were four times more likely to suffer neglect and nearly twice as likely to suffer physical abuse.

"The surprising finding was that the effect of deployment was so consistent," Gibbs says. "Just about any way we could divide the population, we found increased rates of child maltreatment during deployment. We looked at pay grade, rank, single or multiple deployments, whether the family lives on or off post -- all showed increases."

This isn't happening because the left-at-home moms are terrible mothers -- it's happening because they are mothers stressed to the breaking point, says Wendy Lane, MD, MPH, chairwoman of the child protection team at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

"The parents who do this are not bad people. This is the case in most situations of abuse and neglect," Lane tells WebMD. "People want to do the right things for their kids, but often there are stressors that keep them from doing what they want to do."

The main stressor is the "impact of continuous deployment on our soldiers and families," says Delores Johnson, director of family programs for the U.S. Army's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command.

"Because of the continuous deployment of troops, this is much more common than it had been before," Johnson tells WebMD. "We know that neglect tends to increase during deployments, although we have not seen these high rates before. This seems to be coming from families dealing with back-to-back and extended deployments. Mothers are functioning very much alone and dealing with schedules and new babies and all the demands that go with that."

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
mother and daughter talking
child brushing his teeth
Sipping hot tea
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
rl with friends
tissue box
Child with adhd