One recent afternoon, Happy Aldana and other women were poking pinwheels into the lawn of the Dodge County Courthouse.

The shiny blue pinwheels created a pretty scene that seemed to belie the harsh statistics behind them.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and in light of this two area agencies are drawing attention to the importance of promoting the well-being of children and families.

And of preventing child abuse and neglect.

“Child abuse national statistics are overwhelming,” said Linda Schlapfer, outreach coordinator for The Bridge, which provides services in five counties for people who’ve experienced domestic abuse or sexual assault.

Schlapfer provides some statistics:

  • 2.9 million cases of child abuse are reported every year in the United States.
  • Approximately five children die every day because of child abuse.
  • Fourteen percent of all men and 36 percent of all women in prison were abused as children.
  • Abused children are 25 percent more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
  • Abused teens are more likely to engage in sexual risk-taking.
  • About 30 percent of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children.
  • One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.
  • Thirty-four percent of people who sexually abuse a child are family members.

“We stress education, awareness and action as we don’t want to let our children become ‘invisible,’” Schlapfer said.

Aldana, who is the executive director of CASA of the Midlands, also points out the importance of raising awareness about child abuse and neglect.

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. It supports court-appointed advocates for abused or neglected children. CASA of the Midlands serves children in Dodge County.

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“CASA of the Midlands hopes that through such awareness, the community would embrace volunteerism, help children have a voice in court and experience a smoother path to a safe and permanent home where they can thrive,” Aldana said.

To draw awareness to child abuse prevention, The Bridge is placing pinwheels in each of the five counties it serves – Burt, Cuming, Dodge, Washington and Saunders.

Each pinwheel represents a child that has seen or experienced abuse.

“We will have a billboard depicting child abuse awareness going up on North U.S. Highway 77,” Schlapfer said.

Kylie Kampschneider, a Bridge associate, designed the billboard which shows a picture of a child and the words, “Not All Silence is Golden” and lists The Bridge’s 24-hour crisis line number: 1-888-721-4340.

The Bridge also is putting up display board with clotheslines from which hang T-shirts painted on by children.

Aldana and other area residents put “Pinwheels for Prevention” in the lawn of the Dodge County Courthouse in Fremont.

CASA of the Midlands is also having an Easter pie sales event with proceeds going to the agency. The event, featuring Village Inn pies, starts today.

Pies cost $15. Those who want to make pie purchases need to contact Aldana directly at 402-718-3065.

In June, the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce will have a CASA of the Midlands ribbon cutting in the agency’s new location from 9-10 a.m. June 7, at 435 N. Park Ave., Suite 404 in Fremont. The public is invited.

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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