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Pinwheels point to child abuse awareness

Blue and silver pinwheels spin in the breeze across downtown Brookhaven and will continue to do so throughout the month of April.

Each one represents a child who was the victim of some type of abuse in 2020 in Southwest Mississippi — 649 children. The pinwheels were placed Thursday by members of the Southwest Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center, near the log cabin in Railroad Park and in front of businesses whose owners gave permission so that visibility of the spinners can draw attention to the plight of innocent children.

For the fourth time, Magnolia Blues BBQ Company will host Smokin’ Out Child Abuse, Tuesday, April 13, from 3 p.m. until close. All proceeds will benefit the advocacy center to help fight child abuse. Owner Carl Craig has sponsored the event since 2017.

People who want to help by volunteering can also help at the Whistle Stop Challenge races April 24-25 in McComb by helping hand out bottles of water to race participants. Anyone interested in volunteering should call outreach coordinator April Boarman at 601-684-4009 ext. 5 or email aprilboarman@swmscac.org.

Facts and symptoms of abuse

Most child victims know their abusers and most never report the abuse. People who abuse children look and act just like everyone else.

Sexually abused children who keep it a secret or who tell and are not believed are at far greater risk than the general population for psychological, emotional, social and physical problems often lasting into adulthood. One in four girls and one in six boys is sexually abused before his or her 18th birthday. The abuser sometimes threatens the child or a family member, or tell children the abuse is “OK” or “just a game.” Some children are too young to understand what is going on.

A child who is being abused may feel guilty, ashamed, confused or afraid to talk about what is happening. That’s why it is important to watch for red flags.

Changes in behavior or school performance, depression or sudden fears, frequent absences from school or events, reluctance to go home and rebellious behaviors could all be symptoms of abuse.

For more information and more signs of possible abuse, visit www.swmscac.org. To report suspected child abuse, visit www.msabusehotline.mdhs.ms.gov, or call 800-222-8000 or local law enforcement.