PinwheelsLittleEmily-webIt’s fitting that National Child Abuse Prevention Month falls in April. As nature opens up around us, it’s seems right to shine light on a chilling subject.

The Forensic Medical Unit at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, the only one of its kind in Montgomery County, specializes in treating crime victims, including abused children, and collecting medical evidence. The unit’s 20 nurses joined a national movement that uses a “pinwheel garden” to draw attention to child abuse, contrasting the whimsy of pinwheels with an often weighty issue.

With the help of family and volunteers, the nurses planted one pinwheel for each case of child abuse in the county: approximately 3,600 children, according to their contacts.  About 500 of these cases involved sexual abuse.

On April 21, hospital leaders and those active in the movement to prevent, prosecute and help heal child abuse in our community gathered to dedicate the temporary garden, which sits near the driveway to Shady Grove Medical Center’s Emergency Department.

“What you’re seeing in these pinwheels is just a fraction of the kids who are being victimized in our county,” said Debbie Feinstein, senior assistant state’s attorney and chief of the Family Violence Division for Montgomery County, who spoke briefly at the garden’s dedication. She said the garden’s message was that society needs to bring abuse out of the shadows.

“We need to get the word out there that you don’t need to be ashamed, you don’t need to hide it.  Parents, teachers, community members need to educate children that if anything has happened to them, they need to come forward.”