DODGE CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – Throughout the pandemic, the reports of child abuse have declined, but now, upon the country’s reopening, the cases are on the rise.
These blue and silver pinwheels have long been a symbol of child abuse awareness and prevention.
Reminding people that abuse is still happening even during a time in which parts of the country are seemingly shut down.
Although April is National Child Abuse Prevention month, due to COVID-19, the pinwheels weren’t able to be displayed in local communities.
But as restrictions have eased, the pinwheels are being planted.
“We need to have safe communities, safe homes, safe families for children, and the pinwheels represent that,” said Kristin Hines, executive director of CASA.
When COVID-19 closed schools, it forced kids to stay home, and for some, this meant living in an unsafe environment.
“As stressors go up, it makes parents who love their children, more likely to potentially snap and harm their children,” said Hines.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families says its seen a 36% decrease in reports since the pandemic began.
But now, that is changing.
“As things have really started really opening back up, we’re seeing more of an increase,” said Hines. “The stress of jobs, not having paychecks, food. Those have all been things that that they don’t necessarily cause abuse and neglect, but they’re all risk factors for that to be more likely to occur.”
Advocates urge people to watch for signs of abuse such as behavioral changes in kids and unexplained markings or bruising.
They plant these pinwheels as a reminder.
For Greensburg community member, Tammy Wolfley, the pinwheel planting is a tradition she has carried out with her daycare kids for four years.
“The kids really enjoy doing it,” she says, “It hits home for me, being an adoptive parent.”
If you would like to be an advocate for children facing abuse you can visit CASA’s website or call 620-225-1278.
If you are wanting to report abuse, you can visit the Kansas Protection Report Center website or call 1-800-922-5330.
But if you are simply a parent needing help, you can call the parent helpline at 1-800-CHILDREN.
“With everyone and COVID, you know, I just want to stress that child abuse doesn’t go away,” said Kelly Roepka, Child Protective Services Supervisor.
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