National Child Abuse Prevention Month of April…

Never EVER speak to your children in a way that you wouldn’t want to be spoken to. No matter how irritated you get or exhausted you are…
Pinwheels for Prevention…


Prevent Child Abuse…  Quote from this website…

Take action to support healthy child development and help prevent child abuse and neglect in both big ways and small. Whether you donate to Prevent Child Abuse America, participate in one of our fundraising events, or join us by contacting your local office, your contribution makes a difference.

What can you do right now? Anything you do to support kids and parents can help reduce the isolation and stress that often leads to abuse and neglect.

Be a friend to a parent you know. Ask how their children are doing. Draw on your own experiences to provide reassurance and support. If a parent seems to be struggling, offer to baby-sit or run errands, or just lend a friendly ear. Show you understand.

Be a friend to a child you know. Remember their names. Smile when you talk with them. Ask them about their day at school. Send them a card in the mail. Show you care.

Talk to your neighbors about looking out for one another’s children. Encourage a supportive spirit among parents in your apartment building or on your block. Show that you are involved.

Give your used clothing, furniture and toys for use by another family. This can help relieve the stress of financial burdens that parents sometimes take out on their kids.

Volunteer your time and money for programs in your community that support children and families, such as parent support groups, child care centers, and our state chapters and local Healthy Families America sites.

Advocate for public policies, innovative programs and issues that benefit children and families.


The sad and crying little boy in the photo above reminded me vividly of the scary times during my own childhood during the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  Our family was torn apart by my father’s military experience during WWII and the Korean War.  As kids we lived in fear constantly.  We were scared of Dad because he was angry and often violent, especially when self medicated.  We were scared that Mom would be hurt, and worried that she was anxious and nervous all the time.   She yelled and screamed at us siblings as a daily norm…suggesting that we were at the root of all the trouble.  I think all of us wondered what it would be like to be happy and joyful…  We were at times afraid of each other because we became angry living in a highly toxic home circumstance…fighting with each other was a way to relieve stress and vent.  We couldn’t wait to get out of the house for school and play.  And we hated to come back home.

My description of our troubled family dynamic could be duplicated in thousands of homes in America at that time and today in the 21st Century.  The one thing different today that makes a difference is awareness, but we have a long way to go.  The stigma of mental health is strong motivation for children and families to be quiet about what happens at home, and suffer in silence.  Worse yet is that without mitigation or treatment all the emotional baggage sticks around with those who are abused for the next generation…the cycle of pain continues until the pattern of abuse is broken…

The best we can do to help abused children and stop the violence at home is to be vigilant.  As good Samaritans we must not ignore what we see as wrong doing.  All too often during my childhood, there was no place to go to be safe, no one to talk to, and worse we had the feeling no one else cared, even other relatives and family members…friends would stay away too.  Our teachers and coaches didn’t even know… We were silent for fear of the terrible consequences of telling anyone.

Heightened awareness today allows us to freely help as friends and neighbors, and a community as a whole.  Reporting is mandatory in schools and we are trained for intervention.  It is not difficult to recognize a child or a family needing help…  We can reach out and ask for help for ourselves and others in appropriate ways.  The trained mental health professionals and programs available are far more effective today than in the 20th Century.  By becoming educated and aware of child abuse and domestic violence, you can save the life of a child or even help an entire family receive the help needed to start the healing process.  Take a look at the references and resources provided in this blog post and get engaged in your own community doing your part to stop child abuse…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…   Click on the highlighted text for my author page, and purchase my book(s) as part of your awareness campaign and support in preventing child abuse and domestic violence…

April…Child Abuse Awareness Month! “Let’s raise children who won’t have to recover from their childhoods.” ~Pam Leo

“Stigma refers to negative attitudes (prejudice) and negative behavior (discrimination) towards people with substance use and mental health problems.” Chris Currie’s blog from


The Fear and Denial of Mental Health Stigma… Quote from this article from

by Andrea Paquette  by Andrea Paquette

“Mental health stigma knows no bounds and is constantly on the move. It can catch you in the workplace or in the classroom. It can interfere with making friends and can even interfere with keeping friends. But since stigma has to begin with a negative attitude or prejudice, if we can lessen the prejudice, we should in theory be able to lessen the discrimination.

People fear what they don’t understand. And let’s face it, mental health has only recently begun to even be an acceptable topic of conversation. Unfortunately, for many, it is still a topic that sends shivers down spines but it doesn’t have to stay that way. By simply talking about it, we normalize it. I have a feeling that, eventually, people will start to understand.

I never told any friends, coworkers or even romantic partners that I had been hospitalized against my will for over four months for drug-induced psychosis. I never told them that I was once again hospitalized for several months for major depression. Why? Because of stigma.”


Memories are still vivid of a painful childhood growing up in a toxic home.  I struggled and managed to thrive with the heavy burden of emotional baggage from the 1950’s and early 1960’s until much later in life.  Why did I wait so long to confront my past?  Fear and denial followed me from the very moment I learned in 1965 that a potential employer would not hire me because my U.S. Navy honorable discharge document (DD214) included a “code” indicating a less than stable mental health condition.  I was labeled a risk at age 20 and it scared the hell out of me!

I am grateful now later in life to have been able to move on with another company in the telecommunications business and enjoyed a very successful and exciting career.  I was able to complete my college education as well and eventually retired in 2002.  I wonder why any young person with a mental health diagnosis would ever reveal their condition or seek treatment…  Many of us who survive traumatic experiences in life, march on one day at a time for many years until we have the courage to start the process of healing or when it is safe.  I took the safe route until age 64, and it was indeed painful journey…

“Stigma is a self fulfilling prophecy,” they say…  It has been 4 years since publishing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  After all the research and writing on the subject of PTS/PTSD, including this blog with close to 800 postings offering tons of information about my own experience, references and resources with the goal to help others, the human condition of STIGMA leaves me stoned cold and in a quandary.  It is clear that we should all seek treatment immediately following a moral injury and living with the awful symptoms of depression and anxiety, including panic attacks.  But it would be dishonest for me to suggest to anyone who fears losing opportunities and dreams of career success, especially loving relationships and spiritual growth in life, to ever admit a mental health challenge.

I am still searching for the right answer to help younger people, especially those who served America in hard combat or as a first responder.  My prayer and hope is that someday, probably not in my lifetime, that our culture and society will see that stigma is something from our distant past.  I pray that the millions of children and families who suffer from mental illness will be treated without prejudice and will have no fear in seeking meaningful long term treatment and begin the journey of healing.  No human being should have to carry forward the burden of an invisible and life threatening mental illness to one generation and the next.  Lives are at risk while we come to terms with STIGMA…the Germanwings tragedy will haunt all of us forever.  Will the lessons learned lead us to healing as a human society and diversified cultures or will it reinforce the fear and denial connected with mental health STIGMA?

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Click the highlighted text for my author page…


A post WWII family's struggle with moral injury and PTSD
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…A post WWII family’s struggle with moral injury and PTSD.



“Pinwheels for Prevention” at the Lincoln City Cultural Center April 19, 2012… Join community volunteers on the front lawn at 9am…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my books, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… (Kindle $2.99), and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

pin_wheels_mini_1332702381 Pinwheels for Prevention…Lincoln City Cultural Center… Come and join community volunteers on the front lawn of the Cultural Center at 9am this Saturday…April 19, 2014…

Pinwheels for Prevention…official website…  Quote from this website… Big_Pinwheel_Garden_2014_02_00337

Actor Josh Charles and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Help Create Big Pinwheel Gardens in New York and Chicago!

“The Good Wife” actor Josh Charles helped Prevent Child Abuse America transform Times Square into the Big Pinwheel Garden on Tuesday, April 9, to mark Child Abuse Prevention Month and promote the pinwheel as the symbol for healthy starts for all children. Charles was joined by Manhattanmagazine’s Cristina Cuomo, Prevent Child Abuse America President and CEO Jim Hmurovich and over 200 volunteers, holding nearly 5,000 pinwheels to create the display.


I was delighted to learn about the “Pinwheels for Prevention” event planned at the Lincoln City Cultural Center on the front lawn this coming Saturday starting at 9am.  The month of April is designated by the US Congress for National Child Abuse Awareness and month of the military child as well.  I have posted on this blog recognizing April as the month to remind ourselves of the painful silence of children who are emotionally neglected or abused.   It is also a time to think about the families who suffer with emotional challenges that often affect children and result in abuse, including military families.  Children often carry forward the emotional baggage of childhood trauma well into adult life.  I know this to be true as a post WWII and Korean War military child growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  The national conversation during the month of April and throughout the year advances the cause of awareness and healing for millions of Americans…

Judy and I are planning to join our friends and neighbors on Saturday for this special event.  “Make a difference one child at a time.”  Hope to see you there!

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Vice Chair,

April is the month of the military child… Remember the sacrifice of the children of warriors who served too!

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my books, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… (Kindle $2.99), and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Month of the military child…  click on this link…

Meet Skyler, a military child…click on video clip here…

Army wife resource of the week…click on video clip here…

Published on Mar 27, 2014

” A Backpack Journalist ™ helps youth find their “VOICE” Building Resiliency through Creative Expression! Creating the Citizen Journalist of the future! This is a fabulous resource for our military kids and teens!”

Month of the military child post from 2013… by Steve Sparks

Military Children often live and cope with PTSD.  April is the month of the military child…

Celebrate the Month of the Military Child at invites all military parents to spend quality time with their children this month at, the only Department of Defense web site dedicated to the psychological health of military kids.

Anonymous said…  “I just came across this site..  I’m only 16 but my mom has suffered from PTSD my entire life. I had to “be the  parent” at 7, and am constantly switching roles between the child and the adult.  There should be more sites like this that offer support, but I can”t seem to  find any.”


In this link, Military Kids with PTSD, I posted about my own observations and experience as a military child growing up with parents who suffered severely from the symptoms of PTSD.  As a military parent please take extra time to focus on your children.  Use not only this month of April…, but take your awareness forward and help your kids understand how war affects families of combat veterans, especially children.  Use the resources to educate your kids with love and kindness.  Do not allow them to grow up feeling isolated and alone with the memories that are often painful and misunderstood.  As a parent or teacher you can make a huge difference in the lives of your kids on this critical issue.  We owe it to our children to give them the opportunity to grow up to live a healthy, happy, and productive life…


Reflections of Post WWII Military Family Life…Steve Sparks 1956, age 10…

Mother always told Dad we were bad while he was away at sea.

We were safe and free when Dad sailed away.

Fear and beatings made us cry you see…

Mother seemed happier when Dad was away at sea.

With love, joy, and play,

Dreams of family all together forever.

The fear and beatings came again anyway…

By Steve Sparks 

Copyright  Protected 2013 by Steve Sparks.  All rights reserved… Children and Families in Life after Trauma… and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story


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