Provided by Prince WIlliam County
National Child Abuse Prevention Month, represented by blue-and-white pinwheels, is a time to recognize that all children have the right to live a healthy, happy childhood that is free of abuse and neglect.
Prince William County officials, representatives from several community organizations and residents attended an event at the Sean T. Connaughton Plaza on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, to plant a pinwheel garden to mark April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“Our presence here reaffirms the fact that our community recognizes the importance of working together to make sure that every child grows up in an environment free of abuse. Children across our great county deserve to live in a safe, healthy and loving household,” said Prince William Board of County Supervisors Vice-Chair Margaret Angela Franklin. “We know that adverse childhood experience such as child abuse and neglect have long-term, negative effects on the physical and mental health of individuals in childhood to adulthood.”
Planting a pinwheel garden represents hope for children. “The pinwheel garden represents a future that we want for our children here in Prince William County. We want to provide an environment that’s safe and stable for them,” said Theresa Wilson, the program manager for Prince William County Department of Social Services Prevention Team.
“This is so important for the children,” said Prince William Board of County Supervisors Potomac District Supervisor Andrea Bailey, who regularly attends the pinwheel garden planting ceremony. “We have to have representation to protect our children and the county does an exceptional job. It’s important that we that we have a remembrance of why we’re here.”
Prince William Board of County Supervisors Brentsville District Supervisor Jeanine Lawson is also a regular attendee at the annual ceremony. “It’s important to raise awareness about child abuse and April happens to be the month that we highlight it. One case of child abuse is too many and we want to support our social workers who have a very heavy job.”
In 2021, there were 3,842 cases of suspected child abuse and neglect reported in Prince William County.
Some of the signs of child abuse or neglect often include unusual bruising, burns, changes in sleep patterns, altered or regressive behavior or fear of people or places. Signs of neglect might manifest as a lack of supervision where children are left home alone at an age where they should not be alone, poor hygiene, lack of clothing or poor school attendance.
Advisory Board Chair of the Department of Social Services Clarice Torian said the pinwheel garden on the plaza should help remind people to stay vigilant. “We’re hopeful that this garden here serves as a reminder to the community that we all have the responsibility of looking out for our children, and if you see something, say something. Make a phone call because we have an awesome, awesome department of social services that will respond and that will look into the suspicions that are reported.”
Anyone who suspects child abuse or neglect should call the Prince William County Child Protective Services/Adult Protective Services Hotline at 703-792-4200, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. On weekends and holidays, call the State Child Protective Services Hotline at 1-800-552-7096.