Apr. 3, 2023; HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. – April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Each new year brings new goals, perspectives, and efforts for prevention. The latest numbers from the CDC show 1 in 7 children in the US are the victims of abuse.
Coming out of the increased rates of abuse brought on by the pandemic, we are now seeing a significant increase in children being exposed to illicit drugs and/or the dangers associated with the buying and selling of these substances. “Exposure to these substances can impact a child’s physical well-being and development,” explains Laura J. Phipps, PA-C, AdventHealth Provider at Believe Child Advocacy Center. “Additionally, we are seeing that children with caretakers who misuse substances are missing far too much school and are at an increased risk of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect.”
Everyone in our community bears a responsibility for promoting safe childhoods according to Phipps. We can prevent abuse not only by increasing awareness of its impact, but also by providing resources, and supporting policies, which support children and families.
AdventHealth Hendersonville is a long-time partner of Safelight, Hope & Healing for Families and provides the medical care services for victims of child abuse at the Safelight Believe Child Advocacy Center. In 2022, AdventHealth increased this partnership by adding a second certified physician assistant to care for these young victims.
“Our hospital provides expanded medical services in our new state of the art child advocacy center, addressing the increasing needs for our most vulnerable children,” explains Meredith Harding-Bremner, PA-C, AdventHealth Provider at Believe Child Advocacy Center. “Through advocacy, awareness, and action, we will continue to care for and provide our services to our children and their families impacted by child abuse and neglect.”
AdventHealth is once again planting a pinwheel garden on the front lawn of the main hospital campus. This year the Prevent Child Abuse America's Pinwheels for Prevention® theme is Building Together: Prevention & Partnership.
The pinwheel is the national symbol for child abuse prevention. Each year the pinwheel garden at AdventHealth draws attention to child abuse and the various forms it takes - including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, as well as online sexual exploitation. The gardens help create opportunities for conversations about the risk factors that can lead to child abuse and neglect.
“Without our community's support, we could not do the work that is so desperately needed in our crusade to end child abuse and neglect,” shares Laura J. Phipps, PA-C, AdventHealth Provider at Believe Child Advocacy Center. “Efforts like this pinwheel garden bring awareness to a difficult but important concern within our community. I believe, most importantly, each pinwheel is a sign letting survivors know this is a safe space for you to tell your story.”
The Safelight Believe Child Advocacy Center is part of Safelight, Hope & Healing for Families. The center provides services to children for interpersonal violence, sexual assault and adverse childhood experiences. Staff work with medical providers, law enforcement, Department of Social Services, the District Attorney’s ofﬁce and additional partners to provide crisis intervention, conduct forensic interviews, medical exams and offer emotional support and counseling.
To learn more about the Pinwheels for Prevention program, please visit preventchildabuse.org.
For more on Believe Child Advocacy Center, please visit safelightfamily.org/child_advocacy.htm.