Pinwheels honor abused children

Published 10:58 am Thursday, April 9, 2009

By By Kerry Whipple Bean

Forty-eight blue pinwheels are spinning in the breeze outside the Kathy Hill Child Advocacy Center in Brewton, representing 48 children interviewed by the center in the past year.
The pinwheels are part of Child Abuse Awareness Month, held in April to help educate parents and children about the warning signs of abuse.
But physical abuse isn’t the most prevalent type of abuse the child advocacy center sees. Most cases involve sexual abuse — and the overwhelming majority of those involve someone the child knows, Jackson said.
The Child Advocacy Center interviews children who are referred by the Department of Human Resources, by law enforcement and by courts. Children are usually interviewed at the center, which has a more home-like environment than a courtroom or law enforcement office.
The Child Advocacy Center serves children in Escambia, Conecuh and Monroe counties.
In addition to interviewing children, the center works to educate children about abuse. Bringing the issue to light is important, she said, especially because abuse — particularly sexual abuse — has often been a taboo topic.
While the center interviewed 48 children in the past year, Jackson said she doesn’t think that represents the total number of children who are abused in the three-county area. Many cases aren’t reported, and some are simply not referred to the center.
In addition to the pinwheels, the center will be posting blue ribbons on business doorways throughout the county this month, and employees will also be talking to third-graders in Brewton and Escambia County schools about child abuse.
Jackson said third grade seems to be an optimal time to reach children because they are becoming more aware.
While education and awareness are helping the problem, Jackson said she longs for a day when the center’s work puts her out of a job.

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