Pinwheels for prevention

Published 6:12 pm Friday, April 20, 2012

This week is the week of the young child, an annual campaign to raise awareness about the needs of young children and their families. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, “The early childhood years (birth through age 8) lay the foundation for children’s success in school and later in life.”

The week’s celebration kicked off on Friday with a ceremony both joyful and somber: a flashing blue and silver pinwheel garden was planted on the western end of Washington’s waterfront, surrounding a sign, “Pinwheels for Prevention.”

The prevention it speaks to, however, is the prevention of child abuse. It’s estimated that one in four girls will be sexually abused by the age of 18. For boys, the number is one in six. These harrowing statistics apply no matter race, religion or socioeconomic status. They just are.

They just are because people are silent on the issue. Perhaps they don’t recognize the signs of the abuse — children aren’t taught to speak up, parents may not hear what’s not being said. As 90 percent of abuse happens at the hands of a loved one, a person known to the child, or someone else in a trusted position, it’s all the more difficult to bring the situation to light.

This week is the week of the young child, an opportunity to recognize that abuse can be prevented and that it’s our role as a community to take care of our children.