“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Some old sayings just aren’t true. Words can hurt as hard as sticks or stones and, instead of breaking bones, can break hearts. Many children who are victims of physical abuse die from their injuries, while those who survive a traumatic childhood can carry emotional scars into adulthood.
One old saying is true: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” A key to prevention is education: educating adults on the difference between discipline and abuse, and educating children and adults on how to recognize and avoid abuse.
Our communities are not immune to the scars of child abuse, whether physical, verbal, emotional, or otherwise. Fortunately, local residents have a place to turn when in need of information or assistance. The Parenting Place (Prevent Child Abuse Pickens County) is a private, non-profit organization formed in 1991 by volunteers from the medical, educational, and social work fields (and known at the time of its founding as The Pickens County Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse). The organization works to increase public awareness of child abuse and neglect and to assist victims and their families. Click here to read a separate article on The Parenting Place.
Since Ronald Reagan signed a Presidential proclamation designating April as Child Abuse Prevention Month three decades ago, Americans nationwide have observed the month by spreading awareness about child abuse and prevention.
Abuse is defined in different ways, including physical abuse (beating, burning, or punching a child), sexual abuse, emotional abuse (criticizing, insulting, rejecting, or withholding love from a child), and neglect (failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, emotional, or educational needs).
Prevent Child Abuse America developed these five R’s for a better understanding of child abuse prevention: “Raise the issue: Contact elected officials to educate them about issues in the community and the need for child abuse prevention, intervention, and treatment programs. Reach out to kids and parents in the community. Remember the risk factors, which are greater in families where parents abuse drugs or alcohol, are isolated, have difficulty controlling stress or anger, appear uninterested in the care or nourishment or safety of their children, or seem to be having serious economic or housing or personal problems. Recognize the warning signs, including nervousness, aggression, inability to stay awake or concentrate for extended periods, low self-esteem, or poor hygiene. Report suspected abuse or neglect. Contact the Department of Social Services or law enforcement.”
Prevent Child Abuse South Carolina has listed the following as its values:
“We support every child’s right to develop in a secure and nurturing environment.
“We believe that, when intervention is necessary, the safety and survival of the child should be the primary consideration.
“We believe that all services to children should be directed toward strengthening the family across all generations and enhancing parent/child attachment.
“We promote greater emphasis on primary and secondary prevention aimed at addressing critical family needs before children are maltreated.
“We believe all service providers should collaborate to mobilize community resources to ensure that quality assistance is available to persons in need.
“We are committed to being an organization that is flexible, open, and innovative while maintaining our mission and high professional standards.
“We believe that support from strong communities is a critical ingredient in building and sustaining strong families, thus preventing child abuse and neglect.”
During the month of April, you may see pinwheels around the community as a reminder of Child Abuse Prevention Month. The pinwheel is a national symbol for child abuse prevention. Pictured above are pinwheels being 'planted' in planter boxes in front of The Parenting Place, located at 1899 Gentry Memorial Highway in Easley. "This is done throughout the United States," explained Summer Mast, who is the Family Assessment and Data Coordinator for The Parenting Place. "The pinwheels come to us, and businesses who want to put them out for the month of April come and pick up their pinwheels, and everybody plants a pinwheel garden, which is really neat, because, when you drive around, it sparks a conversation about what the pinwheels are for, and that this is Child Abuse Prevention Month."