2,166 pinwheels reflect the number of cases of child abuse or sexual assault handled by Children’s Safe Harbor last year
THE WOODLANDS, TX - For the last six years at the end of April, Children’s Safe Harbor has exhibited a colorful display of pinwheels representing the number of cases they handled in the previous year.
The months of April and May 2019 reported staggering increases – record-breaking service statistics.
Since 2013, it has been displayed on the grounds of the Alan B. Sadler Administrative Building in downtown Conroe. However, this year, on the morning of April 30 as National Child Abuse Prevention Month ended, the children’s advocacy center brought the display to The Woodlands on the grounds of the Montgomery County Ed Chance Courthouse Annex on Lake Robbins Drive.
A total of 2,166 pinwheels – the largest number ever – were installed by Children’s Safe Harbor’s staff and board of directors, members of Montgomery County Precinct 3 Constable Ryan Gable’s office, Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA), and students from Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program.
According to Victoria Constance, MSPH, PhD, Executive Director and CEO of the Board of Directors for Children’s Safe Harbor, the recent months of April and May have incurred the highest number of monthly first service forensic interviews ever – 267 and 247 respectively – which reflect record-breaking service statistics ---1, 176 children assisted in the first five months of 2019!
Children's Safe Harbor (CSH) offers specialized services to traumatized children ages 2 through 17 and their families on a centralized campus facility. Children are able to share their experiences of abuse through a unique narrative investigation process called a forensic interview. Specialized medical evaluations and weekly individual, family and group counseling services are all available at no cost to the child victims and their non-offending family members. As a nationally-accredited nonprofit organization serving Montgomery, San Jacinto, and Walker counties, it is part of a nationwide effort to protect and enhance the life of every child who has the courage to battle sexual or severe physical abuse by healing the trauma of abuse and facilitating justice for children and their families.
Throughout its 20-year history, the nationally-accredited children’s advocacy center has continued to see an ever-increasing amount of new cases each year, which is mostly attributed to Montgomery County’s population growth and the community’s willingness to report abuse.
“We leave the pinwheels out all day in an effort to gain community awareness of the staggering numbers of child abuse and child sexual abuse that is occurring right here in our county,” explained Dr. Constance. “These pinwheels not only represent the number of children who came through our doors last year, but their spinning in the breeze also represents each child’s movement forward towards justice and healing to get their lives back. We are excited to bring the display here in The Woodlands as we’ve received so much support from this area.”
Dr. Constance said in the coming years they plan to keep rotating the display around the county, moving it to Magnolia next year and on to Montgomery in 2021 and eventually moving farther north.
CSH board member Tyler Dunman, who is Chief of Special Crimes Bureau of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, said, “The board is excited about this opportunity to showcase these pinwheels in south county to bring more awareness to this area. It helps people to appreciate the work that goes in to caring for our children and protecting them. The powerful point here is that each one of the pinwheels represents a child who has a story of traumatic events that has happened to them in their young life. Most people don’t understand the fact that this sort of thing is happening in their county.”
Gordy Bunch, Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Woodlands Township of The Woodlands Township, added, “This is a very important issue that affects all of Montgomery County, including The Woodlands. The Township board and staff support all of the efforts of Children’s Safe Harbor. While all these cases are unfortunate, it is great to see people fighting on the behalf of our community.”
Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) Seven Coves Chapter President “Jethro” shared, “Our volunteers are assigned in teams of two to cases if a child wants our support during their case to help them feel safe. Not only can the child call us night or day for anything, but we also accompany them to school and to court, and we intervene if there’s an intimidating threat to try to scare the child from testifying. I’ll never forget one child saying about the abuser, ‘I’m not scared of you anymore, because my BACA friends are a lot meaner than you are.’”
Reporting suspected child abuse is obligated by law. If you suspect a child is in immediate danger, call 911. Or, in the counties of Montgomery, Walker, San Jacinto, call Children’s Safe Harbor at (936) 756-4644, or throughout Texas call the abuse and neglect hotline at 800.252.5400. Visit www.onewithcourage.org for a list of resources.
Children’s Safe Harbor is a 501 © 3 nonprofit corporation. For more information, or to make a donation in honor of their 20 years of exceptional service, visit www.ChildrensSafeHarbor.org