Police, foster parents, social workers and care providers joined forces on the hill below Kentucky State Police Post 14 Monday morning to plant a garden they hope will serve as a reminder for people to report any situation where child abuse is suspected.
“We just want people to be aware that child abuse is prevalent. This just brings a reminder it is a big issue,” said KSP Trooper 1st Class Mike Murriell as a crowd estimated at more than 100 adults and children used pencils to make holes in the ground to hold the plastic stems of bright blue and silver pinwheels that will remain at the post through the month.
The children planted 275 pinwheels in the wind-driven garden, one for each child abuse case in Boyd County during 2012, compared to 229 pinwheels and cases during 2011.
State Rep. Kevin Sinnette, D-Ashland, reminded the crowd he had again contributed to the effort to prevent child abuse and exploitation through legislation making it illegal to view child pornography in Kentucky. Sinnette said only a few years have passed since attitudes about child abuse shifted dramatically, becoming unacceptable instead of being viewed as something that happened behind closed doors, or as a family matter that should not be questioned.
Boyd County Judge-Executive William “Bud” Stevens read a proclamation declaring April Child Abuse Prevention Month in the county.
“This is a serious issue that needs more attention,” Stevens said.
Ashland Mayor Chuck Charles told the audience 759 suspected cases of child abuse were reported in Boyd County last year, with 189 of those cases revealing “substantial maltreatment.”
Charles said child abuse should not be tolerated.
“Today, we want to bring our community to action,” he said. “Child abuse is unacceptable. We want to support healthy child development.”
The audience for the ceremony included children and staff from King’s Daughters Child Development Center, the South Ashland Family Resource Center, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Hope’s Place, the Ramey-Estep Homes, NECCO, the Ashland/Boyd County Health Department, Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, Benchmark Family Services, KVC Croney and Clark and Pathways.
Those who suspect child abuse are asked to call (800) 752-6200 or the KSP at (800) 222-5555.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.