Child Advocacy Center holds annual pinwheel event

Published 6:34 am Saturday, April 8, 2023

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By Travis Gupton

The Selma Times-Journal

Three hundred child abuse cases were investigated in Dallas County last year.

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The Child Advocacy Center, local law enforcement, and other elected officials planted 300 pinwheels along the sidewalk near Trustmark Bank on Broad Ave on Thursday.

Each pinwheel placed represented a child abuse case that was investigated last year. CAC Director Lauri Cothran said that is an encouraging number to them.

“Every single one is too many, but the way that we think about is that saying the number makes people shocked. What it also does is it gives people an opportunity,” Cothran said. “Because if nobody reports a case it tells you how important this is. I wish we had 600 reports because 600 opportunities to help children. It’s not that I wish there was more child abuse. It’s that I wish that there more reports made.”

The Child Advocacy Center works in five different counties and over 1,000 child abuse cases were reported last year among the five counties. The five counties are Bibb, Dallas, Hale, Perry and Wilcox.

Board member and Dallas County Commissioner Jan Justice said one of the main reasons the Advocacy Center exists is to help get convictions of those people who abuse children.

“They were opened primarily to prevent further victimization of children and to be able to get some convictions,” Justice said. “So much of the time in decades past the abuse went just unreported and if it was reported then nothing happened to the perpetrator because it was hard to get a conviction.”

Justice added things have changed now with the Child Advocacy Center.

“At this point the crime is different,” Justice said. “The center is so important for children and adults alike to be able to come and talk about this. Forensic interviewers know how to interview without asking leading questions, without tripping up the children and then they don’t have to tell their story repeatedly to these different strangers. It’s recorded. They can tell their stories one time and then it can be used for prosecution or whatever it needs to be used for.”

The pinwheel planting is part of Child Abuse Prevention Month. April has been recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month since 1981, raising awareness that all children deserve to grow up in a happy and healthy environment.

The pinwheels, nationally recognized as a symbol for the month, will be “planted” outside the Child Advocacy Center and will remain in place through the end of the month. Dallas County will join thousands of other communities across our nation that are putting children first and working to promote the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Pinwheel Gardens stand for every child’s right to be safe, loved, and respected.