As a way to highlight the need to prevent child abuse and child maltreatment from taking place, Prevent Child Abuse America held an event on the Washington National Mall last Tuesday, October 13. Led by their Virginia and Maryland chapters the gathering was an attempt to celebrate childhood and all that communities and individuals can do to prevent child abuse. The event included a “National Pinwheel Garden” that included the planting of more than 1,000 pinwheels near the Washington Monument.

In 2008, Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA) introduced the pinwheel as a national symbol for child abuse prevention through Pinwheels for Prevention®. According to PCA their research showed, that people respond to the pinwheel. They say, “…the pinwheel connotes whimsy and childlike notions. In essence, it has come to serve as the physical embodiment, or reminder, of the great childhoods we want for all children.”

According to PCA President and CEO Jim Hmurovich, “The pinwheel allows us to engage people in a new way and …provides us with an engaging device to move beyond merely making people aware of child abuse prevention, but motivating them to take action on its behalf. From acts big and small, from providing busy parents with a break to signing onto letters to Congress, each of us can, and must, play a role in ensuring great childhoods for our nation’s children.”

Frequently the child welfare community envisions “prevention” as preventing the placement of children into foster care but many who focus on the “front-end” the child welfare system argue that there needs to be increased focus on preventing child maltreatment at its earliest points within the family. As a result you can prevent foster care placements but you also enhance and strengthen families and all the negative outcomes from children touched by child abuse and neglect. Children who may never be removed but who none-the-less suffer negative lifetime consequences.