Online Originals: Child Abuse Prevention month sees decrease in cases due to pandemic

Online Originals

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Groups in Eastern North Carolina are spreading awareness with different events and shows of support.

Pitt County Department of Social Services is partnering with Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, a statewide organization for “Be a Connection,” a campaign to bring community awareness, strengthen families and help children thrive.

Onslow County officials recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month

On Thursday, staff held a “Planting of the Pinwheels” event at Pitt County’s Office Building. Staff members planted a display of blue pinwheels while wearing blue T-shirts sporting the cause.

The blue pinwheel was introduced in 2008 by Prevent Child Abuse America and serves as the national symbol for child abuse prevention.

The pinwheels represent the support and the hope of children. And it’s important because it’s a child’s life. It represents children, it represents the happiness of childhood. We hope when folks see them it reminds them that children are important, that children are our future and that we don’t want children to go through the trauma of child abuse.”

Jane Elliott, Director Pitt County Department of Social Services

Elliott said the number of cases they have seen are about the same as the year before. But not for the reason you think. Elliott said they usually get most of their reports from schools, but since the pandemic caused schools to close and move to remote learning, they saw far less reports than normal.

Lenoir County DSS recognizing Child Abuse Prevention Month

”Had we not been in the pandemic, I think we would have had a growing number of reports,” Elliott said.

School staff and teachers are often trained to spot signs of possible neglect or abuse, but with hybrid learning, teachers had less face-to-face time with students, and many have not even met in person. That makes it hard to spot the signs.

Elliott said most of the reports they’ve received this past year have come from law enforcement and medical providers.

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You can show your support by wearing the color blue, you can also donate.

Pitt County DSS will honor the month with different events.

The week of April 11-18, the Greene Street Bridge, located in Town Commons, will be illuminated in blue every night to amplify the importance of building strong foundations for the children in the community.

On Saturday, April 24, from 11 am to 1 pm, DSS staff will close out the end of the month with the Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Walk. The community event will also be held at the Town Common.

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