April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and several dozen people gathered at the McCoart Government Center on Tuesday to "plant" blue pinwheels to raise awareness about how people can help prevent child abuse.
The pinwheel was adopted as a symbol of child abuse prevention in 2008 by Prevent Child Abuse America, a national organization with the mission to "prevent child abuse and neglect of all children in the United States."
Theresa Wilson, the Prince William County Department of Social Services family services manager, told the people gathered that the pinwheel "represents the carefree, happy life that every child in Prince William County deserves."
The county's Department of Social Services works with the Child Protection Partnership — a group of organizations that includes Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park police, sheriff and health departments, along with the county attorney's office and area counseling providers — to prevent child abuse. "Through that collaboration, we've been able to offer training to professionals and also put together different initiatives to prevent child abuse from ever starting," Wilson said.
Chairman Corey Stewart spoke to the gathering on behalf of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. "The board is very, very proud of all your efforts, all of the county staff that we have… that help prevent child abuse," Stewart said. "So, on behalf of the Board of County Supervisors, I want to thank all of you who help protect our kids here in Prince William County and help protect our future in doing so."
Wilson noted that it's everyone's responsibility to help prevent child abuse. "The main thing that people can do if they have a concern that a child is being abused or neglected is to report it. Everybody plays a role. If you see something then you need to report it. That's how we protect children. It's really a community thing," said Wilson. The Child Abuse Prevention Hotline is 703-792-4200.
For more information about child abuse prevention, visit www.pwcgov.org/dss.