ROCKINGHAM — A small garden of blue and purple pinwheels was planted outside the Speckled Paw at IncSpace on Monday afternoon in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The Richmond County Partnership for Children, which leases space in the building, had a few helping hands with several children — and a few adults — putting the windmills on display.
The children included: Elias Myers, 2, Payton Springs, 10, Kaylen Springs, 6, and Hayle Hutton, 8, from Hamlet; and Jace and Sawn Everett, 5 and 3, respectively, of Rockingham.
Children, parents and RCPC staff used chalk to draw messages and pictures on the sidewalk out front before heading inside to color and for Speckled Paw smoothies.
Others who stopped by include: Dr. Wendy Jordan, director of student services for Richmond County Schools; Angeline David, councilor for Dobbins Heights; and United Way of Richmond County Executive Director Michelle Parrish.
While blue is the traditional color for the event, most of those placed in the ground were purple.
Part of that was due to a supply shortage, according to RCPC chief executive Dr Katrina Chance. However, she added that since purple is also used to refer to domestic violence, it still works, adding that purple represents “healing bruises.”
As well as helping children thrive academically, Chance said one of the Partnership’s goals is to prevent — and raise awareness — of negative childhood experiences, including abuse and neglect. .
“It’s important for us to raise awareness about child abuse, as well as neglect,” Chance said, adding that the statistics have increased since the pandemic.
The WGHP reported in November 2021 that there was a higher number of cases in the Triad region, particularly sexual abuse.
Nationally, however, cases appeared to be declining, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
A graph included in the study shows that ER visits due to abuse and neglect dropped dramatically at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, and although cases have increased since then, they still remain slightly lower. at pre-pandemic levels.
Infant mortality rates also fell in 2020 from the previous year, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau.
In Richmond County, two people were being held in jail for child abuse: Joseph Carroll and Michelle Johnson.
The two are accused of physically and mentally abusing Johnson’s children, including his late son, whose death was allegedly attributed to the abuse. Both are charged with murder in his death.
Chance said individuals don’t have to “know or see that there has been abuse,” just having a suspicion of abuse is enough to file a report in good faith.
Director of Social Services Robby Hall previously told the RO that there were more than 900 cases investigated by the DSS in the 2018-19 financial year. According to Hall, substance abuse and mental health issues are the primary characteristics implicated in the majority of child protection cases.
The RO does not yet have local statistics for more recent years.
However, as of May 2021, there were 71 foster children.