By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
An Ohio Supreme Court justice urged the public to take the extra step to prevent child abuse and neglect.
Don’t just stop with a phone call, but check everything that may be suspicious, said Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton.
“Go through your kid’s toys and clothing. Many parents are too ashamed or too proud to ask for help,” Justice Stratton said. “A simple gesture of kindness can make such a difference.”
She was keynote speaker for the fifth annual Pinwheels for Prevention event to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect.
Pinwheels for Prevention, sponsored by Mahoning County Children Services in collaboration with the Child Advocacy Center and Ohio Children’s Trust Fund, was Thursday at Akron Children’s Hospital Beeghly Campus here. April is national Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Justice Stratton, who served many years on the board of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, an organization dedicated exclusively to foster-care adoption, was instrumental in changing adoption laws in Ohio aimed at expediting adoption cases.
“Every child would like a family, even those who have aged out of the foster-care system,” Justice Stratton said. “You never know what the difference in the world the child you touch might make.”
The Pinwheels effort is important because it is saving children by raising awareness, said Justice Stratton, who, in 1989, became the first woman elected to Franklin County Common Pleas Court.
To dramatize the Pinwheels for Prevention effort, 1,311 pinwheels were placed in front of Akron Children’s Hospital, one for each of the reports of child abuse and neglect received by Mahoning County Children Services in 2008, said Denise Stewart, MCCS executive director.
Though not all of the 1,311 were confirmed to be abuse or neglect, Stewart urged people to continue to report suspected abuse or neglect.
“Many people are afraid to call because they fear they might be mistaken. But, they might also be correct and help to prevent abuse or neglect,” she said.
The Pinwheels campaign’s theme, “Winds of Change: It’s Your Turn to Raise the Leaders of Tomorrow,” is a reminder that everyone has a role to play in supporting the community’s children and their families, said Andrea Mistovich, director of the Child Advocacy Center.