Pinwheels for Prevention campaign raising awareness for increase in child abuse and neglect cases
Over the past year, child and sexual abuse hotlines have reported significant increases in call and message volume, and emergency room physicians have reported seeing more severe child-abuse-related injuries than in a typical year.
For the first time this past year, more than half of the visitors to the National Sexual Assault Hotline were minors.
A key contributing factor: due to public health mandates put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, most children have not been in the presence of teachers, social workers, pediatricians and other caring adults who typically intervene on their behalf when they are unsafe.
As part of a national effort to protect children from abuse, ReadyKids – a Charlottesville nonprofit – and community partners including the Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney’s Office are joining together in the annual Pinwheels for Prevention campaign.
“The ramifications of COVID have had a negative effect on the children and families in our community,” said Jacki Bryant, the executive director of ReadyKids, which provides support to children and families in Charlottesville and the five surrounding counties.
Last year, ReadyKids’ programs impacted the lives of over 8,000 children, families and child care providers in Charlottesville and surrounding counties.
“Financial insecurity, unemployment, virtual schooling, inadequate childcare options and glaring inequities in our healthcare system have led to a quiet epidemic of abuse and neglect for children in Charlottesville and across the country,” Bryant said. “We urge all community members to join us in raising awareness during the month of April and to work together throughout the year to strengthen families and the systems that support them.”
Pinwheels are a physical reminder of the joyful childhoods we want for all children. Other organizations joining ReadyKids in hosting mini-Pinwheels for Prevention gardens include Pediatric Associates and Albemarle County Police Department Victim/Witness Assistance.
This is an especially important year to highlight how the Charlottesville community can support children and families.
“Protecting children from abuse and neglect has been a top priority for our office,” Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania said. “We’re proud to join in this effort to keep kids safe, and we plant our pinwheels to honor the children we worked with and to symbolize their strength and resilience. The presence of the pinwheel gardens across the city of Charlottesville will offer proof of our community’s belief that all children deserve a happy, healthy childhood.”