April 3, 2019 — Bright silver and blue pinwheels are popping up all over Lane County as local schools, businesses and organizations honor April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Led in the region by 90by30, a Lane County initiative to reduce child abuse by 90 percent by 2030, the month started with proclamations at the March 13 Siuslaw School Board meeting and the April 1 Florence City Council meeting, along with other cities and school boards.
Siuslaw School Board Chair Suzanne Mann-Heintz read,
“WHEREAS, the public cares deeply about child abuse, and a majority report that child abuse is a very important moral issue to them;
WHEREAS, preventing child abuse and neglect is a community problem that depends on involvement among people throughout the community;
WHEREAS, child abuse and neglect not only directly harm children, but also increases the likelihood of long-term physical and mental health problems, alcohol and substance abuse, continued family violence and criminal behavior;
WHEREAS, child maltreatment occurs when people find themselves ins stressful situations, without community resources, and don’t know how to cope;
WHEREAS, child abuse and neglect can be reduced by making sure each family has the support they need in raising their children in a safe, nurturing environment;
WHEREAS, effective child abuse prevention programs succeed because of partnerships created among social service agencies, schools, faith communities, civic organizations, law enforcement agencies and the business community;
Now, therefore, I do hereby proclaim April as Child Abuse Prevention Month and call upon all citizens, community agencies, faith groups, medical facilities and business to increase their participation in our efforts to support families, thereby preventing child abuse and strengthening the communities in which we live.”
Mann-Heintz is a member of 90by30, along with other educational groups, and actively seeks to support the area’s children and prevent abuse.
“We will be having a number of pinwheel gardens around town, so watch for those,” she said.
In Florence already, pinwheels have appeared at Oregon Pacific Bank, Banner Bank and the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center. This is due to the handwork of Boys and Girls Club of Western Lane County, who planted pinwheels on Monday around town and at the clubhouse.
In Mapleton, grades one through six are entering 90by30’s Child Abuse Prevention Month Coloring Contest, which is open to youth aged 12 and under.
“At Mapleton High School, our Beyond Me community service group hung the Child Abuse Prevention Month banner on East Mapleton Road,” said Mapleton School District Superintendent Jodi O’Mara. “They also put up ribbons to draw attention to this important subject.”
On its Facebook page, Oregon Pacific Bank said, “Thank you Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Lane County for planting a beautiful garden of pinwheels at our Florence branch today. … Protecting our children is the responsibility of our entire local community, and we are proud to help raise awareness for this critical issue.”
According to 90by30, the group “plants” pinwheels because they are “the symbol of a carefree childhood.” In 2018, over 7,000 were installed throughout the county.
This year, 90by30’s Child Abuse Prevention Month campaign include the phrase “K(no)w More,” a countywide media campaign designed to help every community member play a role in keeping kids safe, healthy and nurtured.
The campaign’s website, www.knowmorelanecounty.org, shows the statistic that 24,000 children in Lane County — that’s one in three kids — have experienced abuse or neglect in their lives.
However, the website continues, “This is unacceptable. But there is reason for optimism. Thousands of people in all seven Lane County regions are working right now to support families and prevent child abuse in their communities. In fact, 86 percent of Lane County adults agree that child abuse CAN be significantly reduced.”
Both 90by30 and K(no)w More include real solutions to prevent child abuse in local communities, as well as ways that kids, adults and groups can get involved.
“Child abuse and neglect are prevented when kids are connected, families are supported and community members take positive action,” the groups say. “Each of us have a role to play. A connected child is a protected child.”
There will be a Child Abuse Prevention Month Open House on Saturday, April 27, at Siuslaw Middle School from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is open to children and families from Western Lane County.
There will be family fun, booths for family services, snacks and face painting. In addition, Mapleton and Siuslaw school districts will judge the entries in the Child Abuse Prevention Month coloring challenge.