Child Abuse Prevention Month events announced

Benny Westcott

To commemorate National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, Sweet Home plans to “turn the town blue.” 

“[W]e recognize the importance of communities working together to help families thrive and prevent child maltreatment,” Community Services Officer Sean Morgan said. “Throughout the year, communities are encouraged to increase awareness about child and family well-being and work together to implement strategies that support families and prevent child abuse and neglect.” 

During the last week of March, individual volunteers, plus representatives from the Sweet Home rotary club and police department, will begin planting blue pinwheels and ribbons along Highway 20 and Long Street, in median strips and at businesses. Blue ribbons will be tied to police patrol vehicles in April. Community residents and merchants are encouraged to do the same. 

“The blue pinwheels and ribbons are reminders that we all have a stake in preventing child abuse,” Morgan said. 

The free pinwheels are available at the Sweet Home Police Department, 1950 Main St; the Chamber of Commerce, 1575 Main St.; and The New Era, 1313 Main St. Donations will be accepted at each location as well, on behalf of organizations that help protect children and seek justice for child abuse. These donations will be split among ABC House, Every Child and Linn County Child Abuse Network. 

A number of events are also scheduled Saturday, April 2, at the police department. The day begins at 10 a.m. with Linn-Benton Every Child Executive Director Jen O’Connell-Baker’s presentation on child-abuse prevention strategies, followed by the annual planting of a blue pinwheel garden and the March for a Child down Main Street.  

Attendees are asked to wear blue clothing. Food will be provided to participants after the march. 

According to the Oregon Department of Human Services, 535 substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect were recorded in Linn County during 2020. Some 48.5% of those children were six years old or younger, and nearly 11% were less than one year old.

That year 16 Oregon children died from causes related to familial/caregiver abuse and/or neglect. Thirteen were 5 years old or younger, with nine being less than 1 year old. 

Morgan emphasized that child-abuse incidents should be reported to the police or to the ODHS. 

“Police officers can sort out what is going on,” he said. 

The City of Sweet Home issued a proclamation Tuesday recognizing Child Abuse Prevention Month, stating, “Child abuse and neglect is a community responsibility affecting both the current and future quality of life of a community… all children deserve to have the safe, stable, nurturing homes and communities they need to foster their healthy growth and development. 

“Communities that provide parents with the social support, knowledge of parenting and child development and concrete resources they need to cope with stress and nurture their children ensure all children grow to their full potential” it continued.

“Effective child abuse prevention strategies succeed because of partnerships created among citizens, human service agencies, schools, faith communities, health care providers, civic organizations, law enforcement agencies and the business community.”