Prevention pinwheels
Volunteers help spread child abuse awareness

COVINGTON - In 2007, there were 1,333 cases of reported child abuse in Newton County. Each of those cases is represented by blue and white pinwheels now on display on the Square in downtown Covington, at Newton Federal Bank and at the office of Department of Family and Children's Services.

It's the hope of volunteers with Prevent Child Abuse Newton County that the pinwheels will bring awareness to a problem they are trying to eradicate through prevention education.

Though the number of reported child abuse cases decreased by more than 100 from 2006 to 2007, a larger percentage were substantiated last year, according to Prevent Child Abuse Newton Executive Director Sheena Berry. Of the 1,333 cases reported, 1,100 were substantiated, she said.

The public has several opportunities to support the organization's mission at events scheduled throughout April, which is national Child Abuse Prevention Month.

At 10:30 a.m. April 11, anyone interested in bringing awareness to the plight of abused children is asked to come to the Square in downtown Covington and link arms to form a human chain.

"We're trying to get as many people as we can to come out. School is out for spring break, and we hope to have a lot of children create a human chain inside the adult link," Berry said.

On April 19, Prevent Child Abuse Newton will hold a family festival on the Square from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Activities for children, food and entertainment will be featured.

Parents and others who work with children are encouraged to attend a sexual abuse prevention training program at Eastside High School from 6:30 to 9 p.m. April 22.

A program of the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy, Stewards of Children educates adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

The program is designed for organizations and individuals that serve children and youth and incorporates all of the fundamental mechanics necessary in creating organizational policies and procedures that keep children safe.

The training is being provided by partners of KidsNet Newton.

The cost is $10 per person.

For more information or to reserve a spot, call Newton County Community Partnership at 770-786-0807.

Prevent Child Abuse is asking the community to support its program through a "Shoe-in" fundraiser. County and city employees are joining local businesses to participate in the fundraiser, in which contributors donate an amount equal to their shoe size.

For example, someone who wears a size 7 shoe is asked to donate $7.

"A lot of businesses are struggling, so we are just saying it's an individual thing. If people want to participate, they can," Berry said.

For more information about any of these events, call Prevent Child Abuse Newton at 678-342-4004.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.