Child abuse in Newton tops 1,000

Photo by Nate McCullough

Photo by Nate McCullough

COVINGTON -- In 2010, there were 1,019 reported cases of abuse and neglect of children. Prevent Child Abuse Newton is making sure those victims are not forgotten.

In commemoration of Prevent Child Abuse Month, the organization has placed pinwheels representing each case of abuse and neglect in various locations around town including the Square in downtown Covington; Newton Federal on U.S. Highway 278; Middle Ridge Elementary School; the city of Porterdale; the town of Newborn; Newton County Health Department; and various medical offices and day care centers.

"Our numbers are on the increase for our county," said Prevent Child Abuse Newton Director Sheena Berry. "We're trying to spread awareness a little more than just in the Covington area. This year, we're trying to venture out and put pinwheels in other areas."

In 2009, there were 938 cases of abuse reported. The 2010 numbers reflect an increase of 81 cases. Berry said the goal of Prevent Child Abuse month is to inform the community that this is going on and raise awareness of what can be done.

"All of us can be reporters. All of us should be reporters. It's not just the responsibility of teachers and parents, but everyone that notices a difference in a child," Berry said. "Eighty percent of children are abused by someone they know -- caretakers, parents, relatives. It's important to notice subtle things like changes in their personality, changes in their sleep habits, changes in their language. It doesn't necessarily mean abuse, but these are signs that are associated."

If you suspect a child is being abused, Berry said it's best to make a report with law enforcement versus confronting the child's parent.

"Make a report. What does it hurt? Better to err on the side of caution. If we have 1,019 cases reported, the experts are saying that's about two-thirds of the cases that are actually happening. We should report it and at least let someone check it out because they can't protect themselves," she said.

Prevent Child Abuse Newton will host a 5K to raise money for its various programs at 11 a.m. Saturday at Church at Covington, located at 11975 Ga. Highway 142 in Oxford. Pre-registration runs through Thursday and is $15. Registration on the day of the race is $20. Entertainment, children's activities and food will be available and various organizations within the community will have informational booths there. For more information, call 678-342-4004.