Hoping to draw attention to and put a positive spin on a hot-button topic, every April the Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky volunteers, advocates and elected officials have placed 2,700 pinwheels — each representing 20 children born in the commonwealth every year — in a grassy area along the steps leading to the Capitol for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

The Pinwheels for Prevention garden symbolizes an average of 54,000 Kentucky children who deserve to live free of abuse and neglect. In the 13 years since its inception, more than 35,000 silver and blue pinwheels have been planted.

“Pinwheels connote happy, healthy childhoods and have become the national symbol of child abuse prevention,” said Jill Seyfred, of Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky. “Since 2008, advocates and volunteers across the country have come together annually to plant pinwheel gardens in their communities, drawing attention to the need for effective programs and policies that ensure the physical, emotional and mental well-being of children and their families.”

According to the latest PCAK statistics, there were 56,286 Child Protective Services (CPS) and Concurrent Domestic Violence (CDV) reports that met the criteria for investigation in 2018 involving 32,408 Kentucky children.

In Franklin County that year, there were 841 calls, involving 356 children, that met the criteria.

The most common maltreatment type, neglect, is a pattern of lacking or dangerous child-rearing practices — such as failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, medical care, education and supervision — and accounts for 76% of the reports, followed by physical abuse (17%), sexual abuse (6%) and emotional abuse (1%).

Signs of neglect include low weight for age or failure to thrive for no medical reason; untreated sores, severe diaper rash, urine scalds and/or significant dental decay; poor hygiene standards; not adequately supervised for their age; hunger, scavenging or stealing food and focus on basic survival; extended stays at school, public places or other homes; longs for adult affection; poor school attendance; emotionally withdrawn; permitted alcohol or drug abuse; and inadequate clothing (especially in winter).

No person — especially a child — should live a life in fear of neglect or abuse. Children cannot protect themselves.

If you suspect a child is a victim of abuse or neglect, report it to the authorities. For information, visit www.pcaky.org or call 1-877-KYSAFE1 (1-877-597-2331).

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