April is…

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April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. And to bring awareness to the fact that the issue is very real locally, the Spalding Collaborative’s Healthy Children Strategy Team set up 588 purple pinwheels on the corner of Taylor Street and 6th Street Friday — one for every case of a suspected child abuse or neglect case in Spalding County that was reported in 2015.

The number represents a slight increase from last year’s 563 cases that the Spalding County Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) had to act on.

  “There’s no telling how many cases were not reported,” said Kim Stephens, chair of the Healthy Children Strategy Team, adding that every pinwheel set up on Friday is one too many. “This is a reflection of how many children are being abused right here in our own backyard. It’s really sad, because the kids are innocent. They never asked to be put in the circumstances they are in.”

Stephens said quite a bit of education has been done in the community through Stewards of Children, an award-winning program that teaches adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. Almost 5 percent—- which is considered the tipping point — of the Spalding County population have been trained in this program.

  In addition, every single employee of the Griffin-Spalding County School System, the county’s largest employer, has been trained in preventing child abuse, said Donna Parks, the school system’s director of student services.

Spalding County DFCS director Phyllis Easton-Barkley said the more information someone who is reporting child abuse or neglect has, the more it helps DFCS to determine if the report needs to be acted on. In case if doubt, Easton-Barkley said, still report.

Those who wish to report child abuse or child neglect can either stop by the local DFCS office at East Solomon Street or call 1-855-GA-CHILD.

Thomas Hoefer
Griffin Daily News

6TH ST. Pinwheels