After the nine students were presented blue and silver pinwheels, they smiled and laughed while watching them spin around outside on a breezy afternoon.
Not all kids, however, experience that kind of happiness or joy in their lives.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery
In Indiana, there are 19,141 children involved with the Department of Child Services because of abuse or neglect. Of that number, 126 are in Jackson County, and 92 of them are out of their home, meaning they are not with their family, parents or siblings and their home environment.
Statewide, a child moves an average of 2.2 times while they are outside of their home, either in relative care or foster care.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and pinwheel ceremonies are conducted around the state to bring awareness to the issue.
On Thursday, nine Brownstown Central Middle School students involved in Teens for Change participated in a ceremony outside the school. The group consisting of students from local schools focuses on raising awareness about domestic violence and teen dating violence.
Each of the students placed a pinwheel before hearing from Charlotte Moss with Turning Point Domestic Violence Services and Kate Garrity, executive director of Child Care Network. They also are co-chairs of the Caring 4 Kids Council. Two DCS workers were there, too.
“The pinwheel is chosen as a symbol for child abuse prevention because that’s the lifestyle we want every child to have is just the pure joy of watching the pinwheels spin and just being able to have fun,” Garrity said. “They shouldn’t have to worry about all of the other things that unfortunately are a part of their lives.”
Earlier this month, pinwheel ceremonies were conducted at Medora Community Schools, Crothersville High School and Seymour High School.
Moss said they wanted the Brownstown students to also have a ceremony so they could educate others about child abuse prevention.
“Some of those kids might be in classes with you,” Moss said. “If you happen to know what’s going on in someone’s life, that’s the time when you want to step in and be that role model that we talk about in Teens for Change and actually reach out to those kids, try to make them feel welcome and understand that it might not be that much fun for them to begin with. They need some support from other people.”
Eighth grader Emily Meyers said Teens for Change members also have raised awareness by wearing orange to educate people about teen dating abuse and marching in a parade in Medora.
“I think it’s good to give the victims a voice since they don’t always have that,” she said. “It’s good to have people who get the message out.”
For all of the students, it’s difficult to think about a classmate suffering physical, emotional or sexual abuse, but they realize it happens.
“It gets you emotional,” eighth grader Maddie Gibson said. “It’s very sad that children do go through this and you don’t think about that. It does happen. It could be someone sitting next to you.”
Eighth grader Cassidy Lawson said it’s important for Teens for Change to get the word out.
“We know our group is trying to do something to bring awareness,” she said.
Eighth grader Emma Hughbanks said her family has fostered children who have been abused, so it’s important for her to be involved with Teens for Change.
“It was sad that they had to go through it, and they didn’t really do anything to deserve it,” she said.
As people see the pinwheels outside the school, she wants them to think about what they can do to prevent child abuse.
“It’s an actual problem and it’s not something in movies and stuff,” Hughbanks said. “Actual kids go through it.”