Blue pinwheels were spinning in the wind in front of the South Lane School District Early Learning Center last week, marking the return of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The pinwheels are nationally recognized as part of the awareness campaign, but local work to get the word out is headed up by Lane County’s nonprofit 90by30.
“We’re trying to normalize being able to talk about child abuse prevention and reaching out,” said Randi Ross, 90by30’s South Lane regional leadership team coordinator. “As community partners, we can all help. We all have a place to help prevent child abuse, regardless if it’s our own children, or just the community’s child.”
The group’s name derives from the group’s goal to reduce child abuse and neglect in Lane County by 90 percent by the year 2030.
Local staff and volunteers from 90by30, the school district’s Early Learning Center and Head Start came out to plant the pinwheels last Wednesday, getting some youth involved as well.
Around 24,000 children in Lane County, or one in three, have experienced abuse or neglect in their lives, according to 90by30 data.
In a recent 90by30 survey, 85 percent of Lane County adults said that there is a role for each to play in preventing child abuse and neglect.
Citing this number, one of the group’s main strategies is to give people the tools to play their part in keeping kids safe and healthy, encouraging the sentiment that “it takes a village” to raise children in safe environments.
Though under the same umbrella of 90by30, each of the group’s seven regions in Lane County have developed their own prevention plan based on local resources, but each plan is also complemented by an overarching countrywide strategy: the “K(no)w More” media campaign.
The campaign emphasizes education around the issue, and prompts individuals to doing their part in prevention.
Along with encouraging community members to take action in this direction, 90by30 promotes connecting kids and families to the necessary resources.
Services such as South Lane School District’s Early Learning Center are a part of that. Heather Murphy, the Early Learning Center’s administrator, emphasized a particular need for these resources considering the effects of the pandemic on children in the past couple years.
“We know that children’s emotional, mental, behavioral health is really at risk,” she said. “They’ve been isolated and children who are in abusive situations have been away from those protective networks that they rely on. So, this is really important this year as we begin to open up just to remind everybody to be aware, to support and to get connected to programs.”
Data shows the problem exists for all ages of youth.
For instance, the Oregon Child Abuse Prevalence Study (OCAPS) is designed to measure child abuse and neglect prevalence rates, conducted by the Center for the Prevention of Abuse and Neglect (CPAN).
Currently, abuse rates are primarily estimated with reports to child welfare and are generally considered to significantly underrepresent actual rates. Retrospective research with adults is also part of that data. The OCAPS study was designed to get around some of the reporting limitations.
In 2018, CPAN completed an OCAPS pilot survey with 225 Lane County 16 and older youth from 12 classrooms and across six high schools and five school districts.
In the pilot, 29 percent of students identified at least one sexual abuse experience, much higher than Department of Human Services report rates, while 52 percent personally experienced at least one type of physical abuse by an adult.
And since the pandemic, such numbers are expected to have risen.
Murphy has hope, though, as the blue pinwheels have come to be widely recognized.
“It’s just a testament to the word getting out there,” she said. “And this is really talking about prevention — as far upstream as you can be.”
Ross echoed the importance of a preventative approach.
“As far upstream as possible, hopefully before we need to worry about the intervention,” she said.
For more information, visit www.90by30.com.
More information about the K(no)w More campaign can be found at www.knowmorelanecounty.org