Approximately 40 people gathered on the south lawn of the Kosciusko County Courthouse in Warsaw today to plant a garden of blue pinwheels in honor of Child Abuse Prevention month.
Those attending the ceremony included representatives of Court Appointed Special Advocates, Department of Children’s Services, Judge David Cates, Prosecutor Dan Hampton, county employees and other attorneys.
Many of those in attendance were also wearing blue in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month. “This is the most blue I’ve seen,” said Mackenzie Cloutier, executive director of CASA.
During a brief ceremony, Janelle Meyer, program director of CASA, said she never met a parent who said, “I want to ruin my child’s life. I want to make my child’s life miserable. What you hear are parents saying, It’s so hard…”
Meyer said she wanted to public to look at the pinwheels as a representation of a happy child’s life. DCS and CASA already work with children who are dealing with abuse and neglect.
Erin Shidler, executive director of DCS in Kosciusko County, stated her department has 67 children in need of services and handles 80 assessments for abuse a month. She reminded the crowd that anybody who suspects a child is abused or neglected is required by law to report it.
James Pippin, regional director for DCS, said since the child abuse hotline was started, more people are aware of their responsibility to report abuse. The department has seen more non-professional making reports about suspected child abuse or neglect.
“You can make a report anonymously and even if we do know your name, we can’t reveal it due to confidentiality laws,” Pippin said. “If you have a suspicion, I tell people to report it.”
He also pointed out with most abuse cases, DCS works with local law enforcement to make the best decision for the child.
And if someone reports suspected abuse, and it’s determined the child is not being abused or neglected, Pippin noted, “Just because a child isn’t being abused or neglected doesn’t mean there isn’t an issue…A parent may just need help and we can do that too,” he said.
To report suspected child abuse or neglect call the Indiana Department Child Services Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at (800) 800-5556. Reports may also be made through the department’s web site.