Preventing child abuse
The pinwheel is a happy, uplifting symbol of childhood. For this reason, it has also become the national symbol for the prevention of child abuse and neglect. During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, CHoR has joined the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign to show our support for keeping children in our community safe.
“The statistics are staggering, especially when you look beyond the numbers and think about the individual children they represent,” says Dr. Elizabeth Wolf, who organized this year’s pinwheel garden at CHoR. “The pinwheel garden signifies our commitment to helping these kids and preventing future abuse.”
“I tell people frequently that I love my job, but hate why I do it,” adds Shamika Byars, certified pediatric nurse practitioner and Child Protection Team member. “I say that because it is one thing to have a societal understanding that child abuse occurs, but a completely different experience to look it in the face, literally, on a daily basis…It’s also difficult knowing that while physical wounds will heal, the emotional scarring can, and often does, last a lifetime.”
A safe environment
All children deserve to be in a secure and nurturing environment. How can you provide this for your own children and loved ones?
- Give yourself time to calm down before disciplining a child.
- NEVER shake a baby or child. Shaking can cause severe injury and even death.
- Teach calm approaches to conflict resolution that do not involve yelling or hitting. Children will learn by watching you.
Signs of child abuse
Help promote the safety of all children by learning the signs of child abuse and what to do if you notice them. Not all children will exhibit signs of being abused, but some indicators may include:
- Unexplained bruises, cuts, burns or other injuries
- Withdrawn behavior
- Problems in school
- Fear of adults
- Mood/behavior changes
- Inappropriate interest in or knowledge of sexual acts
- Not wanting to go home
These individual signs can occur for a variety of reasons. When they show up repeatedly or in combination, they may indicate abuse.
Child abuse occurs across every socioeconomic level and geographic region. Communities must band together to address it and prevent it from occurring moving forward.
If you think a child is being abused:
- Listen. If a child discloses that he or she has been abused by someone, the most important thing you can do is listen carefully.
- Provide a safe environment. Tell the child it was not his or her fault.
- Control your emotions.
- Help. Do not investigate, make promises or notify the parents or caregiver. Report suspected abuse by calling your local law enforcement agency or child protective services agency. You can also call the Virginia Child Protective Services 24-Hour Hotline at 1-800-552-7096.
Child Protection Team
Our Child Protection Team evaluates, diagnoses and treats children who have been sexually or physically abused. The team is led by Dr. Robin Foster, a board certified child abuse expert who serves on several state committees focused on child protection. This group of professionals also works closely with Child Protective Services and law enforcement to ensure the safety and well-being of the region’s children.
CHoR’s blue pinwheel garden is on the Children’s Pavilion Sky Terrace in recognition of our child abuse program in the building. It will be up through the month of May, so take a minute to snap a photo with the garden. Use #PinwheelsforPrevention and tag us on social media to show your support of child abuse prevention.
Appointments and follow-up care:
Children’s Pavilion – Level 4, Pod F
Acute sexual assaults, 24/7 care:
Pediatric Emergency Room, Critical Care Hospital – Ground Level