April 1st marked the beginning of Child Abuse Prevention Month. In Creek County, tribute was paid to that recognition with the planting of 177 blue and silver pinwheels on the lawn of the Creek County Courthouse—one for each child in foster care.
Pinwheels were placed on the lawn by CASA volunteers, Youth Services of Creek County staff and volunteers, community leaders such as the Sheriff’s Office, Sapulpa Police, Sapulpa Fire, EMSA, Creek County DA, Max Cook, Creek County Commissioners, Sapulpa Chamber, City of Sapulpa staff and many others.
State Representative Mark Lawson and Judge Anna Farris were on hand to talk about the resources available to families interested in fostering, as well as promote the agencies committed to helping and protecting the youth of Creek County. “I’m so thankful that our community can come together on an issue like this and be so supportive,” Lawson said. “The work of advocacy is so important for these kids.”
Farris said that the number of pinwheels ought to be a reminder to those who help the children they represent. “Obviously, we are very sad about the number of children in foster care,” she said. “But we are very thankful for the people that do this hard work. It’s important that we have these people that help get the word out that there are services to help avoid abuse.”
Of those 177 children, only 72 were able to be placed in Creek County. The other 105 are in surrounding counties where they are in unfamiliar schools, neighborhoods, and activities.
In 1983 President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. He wanted this month to be about learning the signs of child abuse and what to do if it is suspected.
According to the Mayo Clinic some signs of child abuse may include, but are not limited to, withdrawal from family and friends, changes in behavior such as acting out, aggression, bedwetting and more, depression, anxiety, reluctance to leave school or other activities, attempts to run away, rebellious behavior and self-harm or attempted suicide. While this is not a complete list or a guarantee that these signs do point to child abuse, they are important to look for and to report to local authorities when they are ongoing.
The Oklahoma State Health Department says prevention is key, and parents and families need to know there are resources in their communities. According to the Oklahoma DHS website,
“By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help promote the social and emotional well-being of children and youth and prevent child maltreatment within families and communities.”
The website also says that protective factors are the strengths and resources families draw on during difficult times to shield them from life’s stresses. “Research shows that when parents possess protective factors, the risk for neglect and abuse diminish, and optimal outcomes for children, youth, and families are promoted.”
For resources on how to prevent child abuse families can contact Creek County Health Department Sapulpa at 918-224-5531.