By GENE ESPY
A pinwheel ceremony was held last week at the Department of Family and Children services offices in Summerville. The ceremony is to mark the number of substantiated child abuse or neglect cases in the county that were reported to DFCS in 2018. Each pinwheel placed in the front yard of the DFCS office stands for a case of substantiated child abuse or neglect in the county in 2018.
Also at the ceremony, three balloons were released to commemorate a death due to child abuse or neglect.
A large group of City of Summerville officials, firemen and police officials, and representatives of the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Department were on hand to mark the occasion.
Kim Humphrey, of DFCS, thanked everyone for attending the event to remember children who have suffered from abuse and neglect, particularly those within Chattooga County.
“We especially want to recognize those members of law enforcement, EMS, 9-1-1, firemen, first responders, coroner, DFCS staff and members of the judicial system for their acts of kindness to children they encounter during their work,” Mrs. Humphrey said. “Your compassion is noted and appreciated.”
Heather Abee from DFCS said that in Chattooga County, during the calendar year 2018, DFCS received 402 reports of child abuse or neglect. Some of these, approximately 200, involved situations where DFCS could offer the family services that met their needs, whether these were needs of food, housing or counseling services.
“We also investigated approximately 200 incidents of maltreatment, either child abuse or neglect,” Abee said. “There were 140 children who were substantiated victims of child abuse or neglect.”
DFCS also served many families through family preservation and foster care services to strengthen and reunify families, she continued.
“Sadly, we also must report on some child deaths for the past year,” Abee added.
Vicky Van Pelt said, “A pinwheel will be “planted” today to represent these children. But we feel that one incident is one too many.”
Delight Duke said that supporting local programs that make a difference for our families is important. There is currently a statewide initiative to help parents understand issues around co-sleeping and other baby sleep patterns.
“You can volunteer in local activities for children through the schools, recreation departments, 4-H, church, or the public library,” Mrs. Duke said. “Contact DFCS, the schools, or Family Connection to learn about these and other opportunities to work with children and their families in the county.”
“The average citizen isn’t aware of how serious the problem of child abuse and neglect is in our community,” Michelle Floyd said.
She said the purpose of the pinwheels event is to show the public how truly frightening the problem is, and to focus on ways to prevent these incidents from occurring.
“Share the information at church, at work, with friends and family members,” Mrs. Floyd added.
She said to encourage stressed out parents or guardians to seek help through counseling, talking with a pastor, or calling DFCS to ask for help.
“Unfortunately, this year we will launch three balloons, signifying our remembrance of a child’s death due to abuse or neglect,” Ms. Abee said. “We mourn their loss with their families and pray that the families who mourn are comforted.”