MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (4/2/13) – Monday, April 1st, marked the start of Child Abuse Awareness Month, and "Pinwheels for Prevention".
Bonnie Gibson, Family Resource Youth Service Center Coordinator for Muhlenberg West and East High Schools, noted that she has had "an enormous outpouring of response. I look forward to seeing what our county looks like. The blue pinwheel is the national symbol to bring awareness to child abuse. We're asking that Muhlenberg businesses and residents show their support and concern in fighting child abuse by purchasing pinwheels with blue in them. Next year we plan to purchase as many as we can and take advance orders so we can really keep this going strong." Gibson noted.
A number of events are set for April, according to Gibson.
"I have a group of kids who met at the judicial building in downtown Greenville Monday. They placed pinwheels on the lawn there. That was our kick-off." Gibson explained.
"April 8th, when the students come back to school from Spring break, we will be placing pinwheels on the lawns at both the West and East Campuses to help bring awareness to this horrible act." Ms. Gibson noted.
We have another program at the judicial building in Greenville on April 18th at 4pm called "Together We Can". Some of the kids from elementary schools will be drawing their own pinwheel posters and we will display them there. Sue McBride with Social Services, Jenny McElwain, who serves as a Designated Court Worker, Sheriff McGehee, and Judge Brian Wiggins are working hard on this event. We just want the county residents to come out and show their support for these various separate programs that all concentrate on reducing abuse in the county and statewide." Gibson said.
Despite efforts statewide to increase public awareness, Kentucky continues to be ranked at or near the top in the number of child abuse incidents per-capita, based on the most recent statistics available.
Ms. Gibson said that fact only made her more dedicated to the "Pinwheels for Prevention" program.
"I picked up a paper about three years ago and read that Kentucky was ranked number three in the nation in child abuse. I said to myself, I have got to do something."
Sadly, Incidents have actually increased in the state over the past three years, making awareness and reporting suspected child abuse even more crucial than ever, according to Gibson.
"If someone suspects child abuse, even if you're not 100% sure, you should report it. If you live in another state, report it to social services or your local law enforcement." Gibson stressed.
The statewide anonymous child abuse hotline number is 1-877-KYSAFE1, or 1-877-597-2331.
The National Child Abuse Hotline number is 1-800-4-A-Child, or 1-800-422-4453. You can also call 866-TIP-LINE.
The Adult/Child Abuse Hotline is 1-800-752-6200.
To contact the Muhlenberg Division of Protection & Permanency call 338-3072 or the Muhlenberg Sheriff's Department at 270-338-3345.
Photos provided by Bonnie Gibson
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