April sees Pinwheels for Prevention of child abuse

Published 8:31 am Saturday, April 13, 2024

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Southwest Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center, with the sponsorship of Walmart Distribution Center 6011 in Brookhaven, set up a pinwheel garden in Railroad Park in front of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce as a visual reminder that though abuse occurs, help is available. 

In 2023, nearly 800 children and families received services from the CAC. More than 8,000 have been served since the center opened.

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SWMSCAC was established in 1999 and is a member of the National Children’s Alliance. The non-profit provides a variety of services under one umbrella to victims of child abuse and their families at no cost in Lincoln, Pike, Amite, Walthall and Copiah counties. 

The CAC uses a multidisciplinary approach that prioritizes the child by assisting him or her with trauma recovery and ensuring their future safety as work is done to prosecute offenders. The team consists of law enforcement agencies, child protection services, forensic interviewers, mental and medical health services, prosecution, and victim advocacy. 

The agency’s stated ultimate focus is “helping victims become children again.”

General statistics show that neglect is the most common form of abuse. However, in Mississippi, sexual abuse is the most commonly treated form of abuse in CACs, making up 54 percent of all cases. Physical abuse makes up 20 percent, and neglect is six percent, with witnessing violence and “other” making up the remaining 13 percent.

Nine of 10 victims know the perpetrator in some way and 68 percent are family members. One in three girls and one in five boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. It is estimated that for every incident of abuse reported, two more incidents go unreported. 

Twenty to 25 percent of CAC cases involve child-on-child abuse, but 98 percent of children who receive treatment never go on to hurt another child.

SWMSCAC can be reached online at swmscac.org, by calling 601-684-4009 or by emailing contact@swmscac.org.