Roadside Decoration Marks Child Abuse Prevention Month

McMECHEN — Bright blue pinwheels spinning and sparkling in the sun along a strip of W.Va. 2 in McMechen symbolize the hope of ending child abuse in Marshall County.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect and to encourage individuals and communities to support children and families.

In collaboration with the Woman’s Club of McMechen, the Marshall County Partners in Prevention team decorated a portion of the road with pinwheels to remind passersby of the wonderment of being a child.

“I was thrilled when it was decided we would do this,” said Cindy Tribett, executive director of the Benwood-McMechen Housing Authority. “I am the director of public housing and, unfortunately, we deal a lot with child abuse. I don’t think people realize how prevalent child abuse is, not only in Marshall County, but in West Virginia. People only hear about the cases reported — not the ones that are not.”

Last year alone, 129 charges of domestic battery were filed in Marshall County. In addition, about 340 cases of suspected child abuse and child neglect were investigated in Marshall County through the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources; currently 110 cases are being investigated.

In 2003, the Marshall County Partners in Prevention began working with Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia to implement a mini-grant aimed at preventing child abuse and child neglect in Marshall County. And the team continues to work to educate the community on ways to prevent such tragedies.

The team focuses on community-based approaches to prevention through educating adults, children and teens.

As part of the group’s efforts, the Marshall County Partners in Prevention team is working to provide several educational opportunities during the month of April, several of which are open to the public.

There also are events going on within many of the schools in Marshall County geared toward child abuse prevention and assistance all this month.

The team is comprised of members from many parts of Marshall County, including Marshall County Starting Points, Benwood-McMechen Housing Authority, YWCA Family Violence Prevention Program, West Virginia University Extension, Northern Panhandle Head Start, individual community leaders and West Virginia Prevention Resource Center. For more information, call 304-232-2250.