HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) — You may have noticed pin-wheel gardens planted around the Pine Belt and wondered why.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention month and we spoke to a local child advocacy center about how they are bringing community awareness to the issue.
368 pin-wheels are planted and spinning in 12 different locations.
“We really just want to highlight that child abuse is a problem in our community and we want community supporters to recognize that this is serious but that there are people here that are doing something about it and that together we truly can kick child abuse out,” said Didi Ellis, Kid’s Hub Child Advocacy Center executive director.
366 of the pin-wheels are blue for children treated by the center. Two wheels are colorful for children who lost their lives from child abuse.
This is the first time the advocacy center has planted the pin-wheel gardens in honor of the prevention month; with many local restaurants and businesses allowing the gardens to be set up in front of their businesses.
“Child abuse is a community problem and it really does require a community response. It’s something where we’re a small staff, we work alongside law enforcement and child protection services and local district attorney’s offices, but even we as a team can not do it all.”
Ellis says the purpose of these gardens is to honor the children that have came through their doors.
“When the kids come through our doors and we get to talk to them, we send them on their way, we refer them to different services,” she said. “So the staff here at Kid’s Hub has even said that we hope that some of the children that have come through our doors will see those gardens, recognize our logo on the banner and then realize that the whole community supports them for their brave efforts to open up and talk about their abuse.”
She also tells us about a common child abuse misconception is that it doesn’t happen in your own community, but these 366 children just from the Pine Belt area are proof that it’s right in our back yard.
Another one is that it is most common for children to be abused by people they are closest to, but always teach your child about stranger danger safety.