People driving along Main Street in Thomson will notice fewer pinwheels on the courthouse lawn than in years past. That's a good thing, because each pinwheel represents a case of child abuse in McDuffie County.
"I'm really happy the number of cases are down," County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton said. "That's a huge success thanks to Partners For Success, Department of Family and Children Services and the support from the community."
Chairman Newton joined Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry, DFACS board members and PFS representatives on the courthouse lawn last Thursday to proclaim April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in McDuffie County.
In 2007, there were 277 local investigations of child abuse. Last year, that number dropped to 200, said Mary Beth Lukich, the director of McDuffie County DFACS. The department is required by law to receive and investigate reports of children being physically or sexually abused, neglected or exploited.
"I thank you for everything you do," Chairman Newton said to the representatives. "You go into the homes and see how it has affected the child. I just can't imagine doing that."
Partners For Success Director Miriam Smith credits parent educators, Gail Taylor and Fran Evans, for their help in reporting abuse and preventing it by training parents.
"These are the ladies who are definitely in the homes and see what's going on," she said.
Even though the number is down, it is still an ongoing problem that must be addressed. Chairman Newton and Mayor Usry signed a proclamation stating "child abuse and neglect ruins children's lives, destroys families and contributes to serious societal problems, including juvenile delinquency and teen pregnancy; and whereas Prevent Child Abuse McDuffie is committed to preventing child maltreatment and promoting positive parenting ... (is) hosting public awareness events during April ... is putting out pinwheels to show how many children in this county are affected by abuse each year ... and urge all citizens to protect Georgia's children."