Apr. 1, 2022; HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. – Everyday children across our communities are living in abusive situations. The pandemic has increased the rates of this abuse. The CDC just released new data detailing increased rates of abuse during the pandemic – specifically among teenage students. When it came to abuse by a parent or other adult in the home last year, more than half of the teens said they experienced emotional, verbal abuse. When it comes to physical abuse, 11% of students said they had experienced physical abuse.
“The number of children requiring our services has continued to rise over the last 5 years, escalating with COVID-19. Isolation and family stressors have placed children at increased risk for abuse and neglect,” explains Laura Phipps, PA-C, AdventHealth Provider at Believe Child Advocacy Center.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. AdventHealth Hendersonville is helping bring awareness to this by planting a pinwheel garden on the front lawn of our main hospital campus. This year the Prevent Child Abuse America's Pinwheels for Prevention® theme is Growing a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together.
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. Perhaps most importantly, the pinwheel garden encourages conversations where victims can learn it is safe to speak up.
“Something as simple as these blue pinwheels lining your lawn can create a safe conversation space for everyone, especially children, to talk about their abuse,” says Phipps. “Prevention involves adults being informed and vigilant so they can recognize risks to children. Recognizing the signs of abuse & taking disclosures from a child seriously can not only prevent further harm to that child, but also prevent additional children from becoming victims.”
AdventHealth Hendersonville provides the medical care services for victims of child abuse at the Believe Child Advocacy Center. This spring AdventHealth is expanding that support with the addition of a new provider to help Phipps provide comprehensive forensic medical exams to child victims of abuse and neglect.
The 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