When You See a Pinwheel, Think about the Child Behind It
Pinwheels are a fitting representation of a carefree childhood. Everyone remembers watching pinwheels spin on a breezy spring day or racing through the yard to create your own windy momentum. It’s why pinwheels are a tangible symbol for childhood abuse awareness.
During the month of April, look for pinwheel gardens all around Charleston County as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month. Windwood Family Services is partnering with Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center and Darkness to Light to raise awareness about child abuse prevention and blanket the area with pinwheels.
In 2008, Prevent Child Abuse America introduced the pinwheel as the national symbol for child abuse prevention through the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign. The organization found people were quick to respond to the pinwheel. It has come to serve as the physical embodiment, or reminder, of the great childhoods we want for all children, the organization notes.
The idea behind the pinwheel gardens is to increase awareness of child abuse, and to encourage people that “if you see something, say something,” says Callie Vanderbilt, Communications Director for Windwood Family Services, a local non-profit agency that provides a continuum of therapeutic interventions including advocacy, in-home prevention, and out-patient counseling services to a residential program on a farm for boys ages 6 to 16 years old.
“It’s your turn to do something about child abuse,” she says. “If you see a pinwheel, think about what that means.”
In 2016, there were 18,000 cases of child abuse and neglect in South Carolina. Windwood plans to place close to 2,000 pinwheels throughout the Lowcountry, each one representing 10 children in our state who suffer from abuse or neglect.
In addition, the City of Charleston will sign a proclamation declaring Charleston a “Pinwheel City.” The Town of James Island also will present a proclamation at its April 20th meeting declaring April “Child Abuse Prevention Month.”
One of the most important things people can do is pay attention and speak up if they notice something that seems out of the ordinary or suspicious – whether it’s a family member, neighbor, student or friend of their own child.
Vanderbilt suggests taking note of any physical bruising or other injuries. Or, if the child stops showing up for regular activities, that could be a sign there’s a problem at home.
Most importantly, she says, is talking about child abuse prevention, especially with your own children. Make them aware of the signs and encourage them to speak up if they notice something with a friend or classmate. Also, volunteer with or donate to a local organization committed to ending child abuse.
Child abuse has a significant impact not only on the lives of the child victims, but on the economy of the state.
We must work toward preventing child abuse; the estimated cost of abuse and neglect in South Carolina is $1 billion, which includes things like foster care, law enforcement, special education services and juvenile detention. In addition to the long-term negative effects of the children who suffer from it, the cost after the fact is astounding. It can be prevented if we keep our eyes open and speak up whenever we see something that seems amiss.
Watch for pinwheel gardens at these locations during the month of April:
- Park Circle, Tanger Outlets, Trident Technical College in North Charleston
- Blessed Sacrament Catholic School, John Wesley United Methodist Church, Citadel Mall in West Ashley
- Johns Island Library, Tattooed Moose, Sea Island Chamber of Commerce on Johns Island
- Hollywood Public Library
- James Island Town Hall
- Charleston County Public Library
- Tot Lot on Sullivan’s Island
- Mount Pleasant Towne Centre and the Patriots Point Athletic Complex
To learn more about how you can prevent child abuse, visit WindwoodFarm.org.