The statistics are staggering, alarming, and heartbreaking. The 415 pinwheels located outside the Detwiler building on Shoop Avenue in Wauseon represent 415 cases of child abuse reports investigated in Fulton County in 2012. 3.7%, nearly one out of every twenty-five Fulton County children under the age of 18, had an incident of abuse reported and investigated last year.
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The “Pinwheels for Prevention” event was organized by Bethany Wilson and the JFS Children Services staff along with Karen Pennington and the Family First Council and occurred on Wednesday, April 10. Due to weather conditions the vast part of the ceremony was held inside until the weather broke enough for those in attendance to place the pinwheels along the sidewalks leading up to the building.
Amy Metz-Simon, Director of Fulton County Job and Family Services, opened the ceremony by speaking to the audience about the history of Child Abuse Prevention Month as well as provided statistics to illustrate the severity of child abuse as an on-going problem in our society.
Metz-Simon explained that “Abuse isn’t new; the US Department of Health and Human Services recognized a massive increase in child abuse and neglect in the early 80s despite the Child Abuse and Treatment Act of 1974. This increase brought about the first child abuse prevention week. In 1989, a Virginia grandmother lost her grandchild to abuse. In honor of her grandson and to promote awareness of prevention, a simple blue ribbon was tied to the antenna of her vehicle. This symbol has now become the Blue Ribbon Campaign and shows support of the Child Abuse Prevention Month.”
Those in attendance at the ceremony included representatives from the Family and Children First Council, Adriel, and Job and Family Services. Community member Tim Gorsuch also came out to show his support and with the placement of the pinwheels at the close of the ceremony. All of those in attendance at the ceremony wore blue to show their support for child abuse prevention and to honor the tradition of Virginian grandmother.
Metz-Simon also reported to the audience that “Child abuse occurs at all income levels, within every race; and encompasses all religions and levels of education. It has no boundaries, no limits. Most perpetrators are parents or other caregivers including relatives, babysitters and acquaintances…
Alcohol and drugs play a major role in abuse with as many as two-thirds of these cases involving substance use by the perpetrator. Parents who abuse these substances are three times more likely to abuse their children and four times more likely to neglect them. As a result, two-thirds of the people in treatment for drug abuse were abused or neglected as children.
Abuse is also noticeable in our criminal systems. Abused and neglected children are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit a violent crime. In the US, 14% of all men in prison and 36% of all women were abused as children…
The United States has the worst record as an industrialized nation for losing children daily to abuse related deaths. This accounts for more than five deaths in children daily with approximately 80% of these children under the age of four years. In addition, it is estimated that half of the child fatalities due to abuse are not reported as abuse on death certificates.”
Metz-Simon pointed out that this means that the number of childhood deaths as a result of abuse is most likely higher than statistics show.
The national prevention message for Child Abuse Prevention Month is “Pause for a child. Make children a priority. Take time to focus on prevention,” and is a priority of the local “Pinwheels for Prevention” campaign. As well as to represent the 415 cases of child abuse investigated last year, the pinwheels represent area agencies’ commitment to preventing child abuse through preventative measures including home visitation services, parent education, along with other programs and resources to ensure every child can develop in a healthy, safe and nurturing environment.
Metz-Simon closed by encouraging the audience, “Let’s break the cycle together by remembering to ‘Pause for a child. Make children a priority. Take time to focus on prevention.”