Pinwheel Garden at USM Helps Raise Awareness of Child Abuse Prevention
Mon, 03/09/2020 - 13:43pm | By: Van Arnold
For the fourth consecutive year, the School of Social Work at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is partnering with USM’s Center for Child Development and Kids Hub Child Advocacy Center to plant a pinwheel garden on the Hattiesburg campus to raise awareness regarding child abuse prevention.
The pinwheel garden will be planted on April 3rd and will remain up for the entire month of April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month. The garden is a unique and eye- opening way to visually see the number of children in the Hattiesburg area, and surrounding counties, who were serviced by Kids Hub in the last year.
Kids Hub works with law enforcement in the four-county area to provide services to children and families where there are allegations of serious abuse or neglect that would rise to the level of a felony, or in the cases where children have witnessed a violent crime. Trained staff conduct forensic interviews in a child-friendly environment at the center, with law enforcement observing, and also provide other services in a victim-advocacy role.
“The goal is to inform the community about the importance of reporting child abuse and neglect and to make sure that more and more people are taking steps to protect children,” said Rachel Lahasky, clinical instructor in USM’s School of Social Work.
Lahasky notes that the small pinwheels represent the number of children that Kids Hub has completed a forensic interview on in the last fiscal year. The larger pinwheels represent any child deaths that Kids Hub has worked during that time frame.
The pinwheel garden provides powerful imagery and an important reminder that much work remains in the fight to prevent child abuse.
“It is hard to believe that so many children received a forensic interview over the course of the year and the number continues to rise at Kids Hub,” said Lahasky. “There are many child advocacy centers across our state, and the number of forensic interviews continue to rise in those centers as well. While it is alarming to see those number go up, it is also hopeful knowing that more and more people are making reports on behalf of children’s safety and learning about ways to prevent and stop child abuse.”
The garden will be planted on the grounds of the Center for Child Development, 3400 Morningside Drive. Students from the center, ages 2-5, will assist in the planting.