NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (April, 1, 2022) – Child abuse prevention advocates are again using a sea of pinwheels to draw attention to the cause.
The Noah’s Hope Child Advocacy Center’s yearly “Pinwheels for Prevention” display went up on the steps in front of the county courthouse Thursday afternoon to kickoff National Child Abuse Prevention Month here in April. Director Mandy Willet says each of the 888 pinwheels in the display represents a case of child abuse or neglect reported in Tuscarawas County last year.
“Now those are cases through Job and Family Services, cases served at Noah’s Hope, but also all the calls that came in. So sometimes that number can be a little bit deceiving, only because there can be several people that call in on one family, but it has to be close to 800, I would imagine.
The county’s job and family services office investigated 408 reports of child abuse and neglect in 2021, of which almost 30 percent involved substance use, and placed 74 children in foster care. Willet says the advocacy center served 159 children compared to 119 in 2020.
“I’m thinking that maybe in 2020, the kids weren’t seen a lot. You know they weren’t at home. They didn’t have access to mandated reporters in the school. They did a lot of counseling and things like that via Zoom, so they weren’t being seen person to person. So my thought process is in 2021 when kids are back in school, they’re back with mandated reporters, they are disclosing more, those reporters are seeing things and calling them in.”
Willet says JFS and law enforcement are the first line of defense against child abuse and neglect. The agency’s children’s services division can be reached by calling 330-339-7791 and selecting option 4.