April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Last Monday night, the community a “planted” a pinwheel Garden at the entrance of Cherry Hill Park in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month. We had a great turnout – thank you to everyone for showing support for this important community dedication, and especially to City Staff in spearheading this effort and being so receptive to ideas and bringing this to Falls Church. This has been a national event since 1983, and I’m so glad to see Falls Church taking part in this this year with our first pinwheel garden. This is an important time for the community to come together to raise awareness and prevent child abuse.

In 2015, there were nearly 50,000 children reported as possible victims of abuse and neglect in Virginia, and of those, there were 48 confirmed deaths due to abuse and neglect. And those are just the reported cases – they are likely many more who haven’t come forward yet. Child abuse can affect any family in any community – girls, boys, children of any age.

We have a responsibility as parents and adults to celebrate children and help them thrive, so they can grow up to be caring and productive adults. We all play a part. As part of this month, I hope we’ll be able to put together some concrete, positive actions the community can take – for example – education programs for teachers – who are often the first line of defense in spotting abuse or family issues. We need to create an environment where victims can feel safe in coming forward and know there is a community ready to support them.

This Pinwheel Garden represents what we want for every child – a happy, safe and carefree childhood and a community that looks out for each other and helps each other grow and thrive into something beautiful. I hope the community will come out this month and see this garden as a physical reminder of the beautiful childhoods we want for all children.