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Pinwheel garden shines light on child abuse in York County
In 2014, there were more than 1,400 reports of child abuse in York County, according to the York County Children’s Advocacy Center.
York County ranks third in the state for most reported cases of child abuse. To highlight the problem that plagues the county, Deborah Harrison and the York County CAC have planted a “pinwheel garden” at the corner of Rathton Road and George Street, near York Hospital.
“We know we have an issue here,” Harrison said. “We placed 681 pinwheels, the number of children we saw at the advocacy center in 2015.”
April: April is Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month. City and county officials also made a joint proclamation on Monday to recognize the month and the efforts of the Children's Advocacy Center.
"Our communities become stronger when we work together," said Mayor Kim Bracey at a news conference at York Hospital Monday. "We urge all our citizens to protect our children, our most important resource for the future."
This is the fifth year the center has done the pinwheel garden. Harrison said there are more than 55 other smaller pinwheel gardens around the county at schools and businesses.
Dr. David Turkewitz, a pediatrician focused on emergency medicine, said pinwheels represent the sense of joy and freedom children should have but are sometimes deprived of when they've been abused.
"We see 15 to 20 children evaluated for sexual abuse every month," Turkewitz said. "The pain is with these children every day. It isn't enough to help them. We need to change. We need to work so every child is going to be free of abuse."
The number of child abuse reports in York County has tripled, according to Tom Kearney, York County district attorney. This has come from better reporting regulations, he said.
"What we're experiencing and how far we've come is just magnificent," Kearney said. "The Children's Advocacy Center has changed us. It's made our job better. We're third (for reported child abuse) because we're active in pursuing it. Not many counties are. I think York County can be proud."
The pinwheel gardens will be on display during the month of April.
Elizabeth Smart: The center is also celebrating its 10th anniversary on April 22. Nationally recognized child advocate Elizabeth Smart is speaking at at 7 p.m. that night at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St.
Smart was abducted in June 2002 from her home in Utah. She was found nine months later 18 miles from her home after enduring abuse by her captors. Smart has become an advocate for change related to child abduction and recovery programs, according to the center.
Tickets for the event are available online at mystrandcapitol.org. General admission tickets are $46. Meet and greet tickets are $100. Proceeds from the event will benefit the programs of the York County Children's Advocacy Center.