Pinwheels symbolize the playfulness and joy of childhood and convey the message that every child deserves the chance to be raised in a healthy, safe and nurturing environment.
Sadly, there are children who do not have the opportunity to grow up in a safe and loving household.
Prevent Child Abuse America introduced the pinwheel as the national symbol for child abuse prevention in 2008, and the placing of pinwheels is done in April each year for National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Charlotte Moss, community services director for Turning Point Domestic Violence Services in Jackson County, leads the annual effort in placing pinwheels around the county.
Moss also co-chairs the Caring 4 Kids Council with Kate Garrity, executive director of Child Care Network.
“This year, no one is having any big ceremony because of COVID, but we’ve had to do more low-key things because we couldn’t get people together,” Moss said. “When the pandemic started, a lot of people wanted to have their pinwheel ceremonies at their own places.”
Moss said she, Garrity and Children’s Bureau in Seymour pass out pinwheels to anybody who wants them. If interested, contact the Caring 4 Kids Council on Facebook or email [email protected]
“If they want to place their own pinwheels and have a sign, we encourage them to post the pictures on social media and hashtag them #GrowingBetterTogether,” Moss said.
Nikki Storey, a guidance counselor at Seymour High School, said pinwheels will be placed at the school around 10 a.m. Friday.
“The pinwheels are to be placed along the sidewalk in front of the main gymnasium entrance,” she said. “This is a Teens for Change activity, and I believe JAG (Jobs for America’s Graduates) students are also participating.”
Earlier this month, Crothersville High School had a family game night in connection with National Child Abuse Prevention Month. They had games set up, popcorn and door prizes for attendees.
Moss said she attended the event with Turning Point and usually wears two or three hats when she goes there, representing the Caring 4 Kids Council, Turning Point and Teens for Change, which is a part of Turning Point.
“They had pinwheels and also fun activities and a lot of other things to do with prevention,” she said. “We’re finding out that just learning how to do things again as a family is effective for any kind of prevention.”
Turning Point does some prevention work with families and also has a family game night, and one of the things they do is teach developmental assets.
“We show them how just playing games with your kids is easy and you’re actually teaching them something,” Moss said. “You’re teaching them communication skills and how to collaborate and all these different things, so it’s just a good fit to put all of it together.”
Moss said the Caring 4 Kids Council is part of the Community Action Network in Seymour.
“Basically, the people in our council support one another in events and activities all year-round, and we do one event for the year,” Moss said. “It’s usually been the pinwheels or Kids Fest, but until the building’s done, we can’t have Kids Fest.”
She said they network with Schneck Medical Center; Healthy Babies; Women, Infants and Children; Centerstone; Jackson County Health Department; Clarity; and Jackson County Public Library.
“That way, anything that’s going on with newborns or early childhood, we can try to connect people so that they know those services are available,” Moss said.
Jackson County Sheriff Rick Meyer recently issued a news release about National Child Abuse Prevention Month and said children are our most promising and vulnerable citizens, but unfortunately, child abuse and neglect mar too many young lives.
“We are fighting this problem every single day, and sadly, it is work that never ends,” Meyer said. “We know that children from birth through age 4 are at the highest risk for abuse and neglect.”
Fifty Hoosier children died due to abuse or neglect in 2020, according to the Indiana Department of Child Services. More than half of the victims were 3 or younger.
Indiana DCS found that 13 of the 50 children had previously been identified as victims of abuse or neglect. Death by weapon, including a closed fist, was the most common cause of death, and 59 of the alleged perpetrators, more than 80%, were biological parents.
“The community can play a major role in helping prevent child abuse and neglect,” Meyer said. “Educating yourself not only about the signs of abuse and neglect but how to increase protective factors can help reduce this terrible problem.”
He said increasing protective factors is one important way to prevent child abuse and neglect. Protective factors are conditions in families and communities that increase the health and well-being of families.
According to Prevent Child Abuse, protective factors serve as buffers, helping parents develop coping strategies or find resources that assist them in parenting effectively under all circumstances.
The protective factors are parental resilience, social and emotional competence of children, parental knowledge of child development and parenting skills, concrete support for parents and social connections.
“There are ways for every adult in our community to have a positive impact on children’s well-being using the protective factors,” Meyer said.
State law requires any adult who suspects a child is being abused or neglected to report those concerns.
If you suspect abuse or neglect, call Indiana’s Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, 800-800-5556. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. You may remain anonymous.
“We will continue to do our best to protect kids in our community and hold those who hurt them accountable,” Meyer said. “I hope everyone will join in this effort.”
For information on National Child Abuse Prevention Month, visit childwelfare.gov or preventchildabuse.org.
Prevent Child Abuse Indiana’s website, pcain.org, has access to all of the state events going on this month.