TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Local advocates say case numbers have gone up over the past year as families struggle at home due to the pandemic.
Those advocates planted pinwheels to get your attention and get you talking Thursday. The blue and silver pinwheels, spinning in the wind, are planted each spring to draw your eyes to the serious issue.
Harsha Behavioral Center, the Children’s Bureau and Prevent Child Abuse Committee partnered to grow a garden of pinwheels for Child Abuse Prevention Month. The pinwheels represent lightheartedness and children growing up happy and healthy.
Harsha Behavioral Center Senior Director Mel Kirchner says, "I hope that they think that it is good to check in on kids, the neighbors and to just bring an awareness for child abuse."
Harsha is an acute in-patient hospital caring for patients as young as 3 years old.
Kirchner says, "I think the last year has been really rough with DCS and the child abuse cases. I know the school corporation has struggled as well and so have we. We've seen an incline in child abuse cases that come in."
She says there were 2 million child abuse and neglect cases nationwide in 2019 and Vigo county ranks among the highest for cases in Indiana.
"It is definitely an issue in our community and that's why it's important for people to come forward if they're seeing something."
She and other advocates hope these pinwheels get you thinking about child abuse prevention and spur conversations.
"Ask. I mean, just flat out ask your child or who you are concerned about because oftentimes children won't come forward themselves so if you're worried about something then make sure you're asking the right questions."
You can call the Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline to report concerns. That telephone number is 1-800-800-5556. You'll need information about the circumstances like who was involved, where it happened, and when it happened.
If you fear there's an immediate danger you should call 9-1-1.