EUGENE, Ore. — Child abuse and neglect continues to plague our state and nation, and one local nonprofit is using pinwheels to try to raise awareness about the problem as a part of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Driving by Parenting Now in Eugene, you can’t miss the bright blue pinwheels. Dozens are now planted outside, signifying a free and beautiful childhood. Sadly, though, many children in the state and in Lane County don’t always have that.
On this Wednesday morning, mothers meet at Parenting Now to stay connected, get advice and navigate the unknown of a newborn. Those like Brittney Cummings will agree sometimes parenting can be rough.
“Sometimes you need to step away, put baby down where they are safe, and just take a step away get some fresh air and breathe,” Cummings said.
Program managers there say finding ways to navigate the stress is key to preventing child abuse and neglect. They say sadly the abuse is happening. In 2012, the number of kids who experienced abuse or neglect in Oregon could fill 170 school buses.
“That ends up being about 10 per 1,000 children in Lane County, and out of those about 15 percent are 5 years old or younger,” said Lynne Swartz, Executive Director of Parenting Now.
“I know it happens a lot, but that is a huge number,” Cummings said.
That’s why moms like Cummings, and even the little ones, are helping put a positive spin on the issue. They planted pinwheels making a statement.
“It is such a happy representation. It’s free and beautiful, and that is how we would like a childhood to be,” Swartz said.
And they say the abuse cycle doesn’t have to go round and round.
“Finding social support and talking with other parents and people that have information about parenting can be really helpful to parents,” said Pamela Evanston, Parenting Now Program Manager.
Signs of physical abuses include an unexplained injury or bruises, or a child being frightened of a parent or caretaker, even afraid to go home. Signs of neglect include poor hygiene, matted hair, dirty skin, and the child has unattended physical or medical problems.
“We’ve got the 2-1-1 system is a warm line that families can call and get support and resources around parenting and well beyond that,” Swartz said.
And for these mommas, it’s a platform for success.
“Our youth are everything,” Cumming said.
And those there hope the pinwheels will serve as that reminder.
The pinwheels will also pop up at other locations this week and next week at the public library.
Click here for a list of resources to help you as a parent.