“[The Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign] began ... as a grassroots campaign just to bring awareness to the problem of child abuse,” said Liz Fox, Advocates’ prevention coordinator. “It’s not just an individual problem. It’s a community problem. Pinwheels are a symbol of childhood so that was used in order to gain awareness. I think it started in Georgia then went nationwide with Prevent Child Abuse, which is a national child abuse prevention organization. ... [We want people] to kind of take action ... [and] learn [how they can] prevent [child abuse]. That’s what the campaign is. It’s a public awareness so people will think about prevention.
“It’s [about] becoming aware in your community of your neighbors and your neighbors’ families and then all the children you come in contact with, and being able to be the person that can do something about it. Professionals are typically not the ones that report it. Everyday people, they see what happens to children in their neighborhoods, in their schools, on the playground. It’s our responsibility as fellow citizens to help our children.”
A Cartersville nonprofit, Advocates serves about 2,600 area youth each year through the Flowering Branch Children’s Shelter and providing services that assist in the awareness, prevention and treatment of child abuse. As the organization continues to spread awareness and raise money to fund its efforts, Fox said incidents of child abuse and neglect have not diminished.
“It seems like the harder the times are the more it occurs,” Fox said. “... I think that people need to understand that it affects their whole community and the healthy development of children and we pay for that. All of us pay for that as citizens. So it’s in our best interest to help prevent.”
In addition to Advocates for Children, Amanda Dellinger — a Cartersville resident and the owner, director and therapist for Thrive Counseling in Kennesaw — also is reaching out to the community during Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“Unfortunately children are sometimes exposed to intensive stress, like child abuse and neglect, and those experiences can really be devastating to childhood development overall, if we take this a little bit larger,” Dellinger said. “It’s really simple, the actions that we take to promote healthy child development are actually the very actions that help to prevent child abuse and neglect, like parent-child interaction, reading and even constructive play.
“So I would say unfortunately when children are exposed to those intensive stresses, like child abuse and neglect, that it can have those devastating effects to the overarching child’s development. So that would ... be my message to parents. I think that we kind of tend to put this in a box but I think it can have a larger scale effect as well.”