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Know signs of abuse, say pinwheel garden sponsors

By | Posted - Apr 6th, 2013 @ 7:49pm

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TAYLORSVILLE — Do you know the warning signs that a child may be abused? Prevent Child Abuse Utah is hoping their blue pinwheels across Utah will help educate people on those signs and abuse prevention.

The Taylorsville Exchange Club, PCAU, and members of the Taylorsville City council worked together Saturday to create a display of 576 blue pinwheels to observe child abuse prevention month. Taylorsville City will also fly the blue ribbon flag during April.

The Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of Utah, Bikers Against Child Abuse, among others, helped place the pinwheels in the pinwheel garden.

The organizations and the city want community members to educate themselves on child abuse, and the different ways in which that can take place: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional maltreatment are the four types they have identified.

"I want them to ask questions. We want people to drive by and wonder what they're about, read the signs, and start some grassroots conversations around the dinner table about child abuse," said Mariah Griffith of the Family Support Center, a private non-profit that aims to protect children, strengthen families, and prevent child abuse.

Signs of Abuse
Physical Abuse
  • Bruises, burns, and other unexplained marks
  • Seems frightened of the parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home
  • Shrinks at the approach of adults
  • Reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver
  • Frequent school absences
  • Begs for or steals food
  • Consistently dirty
  • Lacks proper clothing for weather
  • Abuses harmful substances
  • Says there is no care at home
Sexual Abuse
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Sudden refusals to change for gym or physical activity
  • Demonstrates unusual sexual knowledge
  • Becomes pregnant or contracts venereal disease
  • Reports sexual abuse
Emotional Maltreatment
    • Shows extremes in behavior
    • Inappropriately adult or infantile
    • Delayed in physical or emotional development
    • Has attempted suicide
    • Reports a lack of attachment to the parent
  • "To have people really reflect on themselves, their parenting styles, the things they're doing or not doing that could be improved and also start opening their eyes to their neighbors and watch for warning signs."

    Though knowing the signs of child abuse is critical to stop abuse, Renee Sorensen, PCAU chair, stressed the importance of prevention.

    "I want them to think of prevention," Sorensen said. "So many times when we think of child abuse we think of intervention. This is a prevention awareness field. We do it through educating our children, parents, grandparents ... there are things to watch out for."

    Educating adults on what child abuse is and how to prevent it will make the biggest impact on a community and give children the lives they should have, Sorensen said.

    She hopes the pinwheel garden helps people realize information is available to help them and that that knowledge can empower children.

    "We live in a very family-friendly state and I think a lot of times these victims fly under the radar," Griffith said. "But the truth is that there are over 9,000 in the state of Utah and 3,500 in Salt Lake County (annually)."

    Sorensen said this is the second year Taylorsville has participated in the pinwheel garden, and that the the child's toy brings back "fond memories of childhood" and a smile to her face — things every child deserves.


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