BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – As they spin in the chilly April breeze and catch the eye, each of the pinwheels planted Monday at Boardman Park have a much deeper significance. They represent the 1,379 cases of child abuse reported in Mahoning County last year.
The pinwheels were placed in recognition of Child Abuse Awareness Month.
The figures are higher than last year by about 24 cases.
The Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office assigns two detectives full-time to look into abuse cases. Last year, 4,000 calls and referrals were taken. Major Jeff Allen said they are seeing more cases of abuse that stem from drug abuse, specifically heroin.
“Kids being left alone at the house, deplorable conditions inside the residence, no food, no running water, you are seeing a lot of that lately,” Allen said.
Mahoning County Children Service’s spokesperson Jennifer Kollar said that while severe cases can result in children being placed in foster care, the goal is to keep children and their parents together at home. Counseling and other services are offered to help reach that goal.
“Maybe there are mental health issues with the family, and so we are there to try to use the community resources and support before they become a statistic,” Kollar said.
The pinwheels at Boardman Park will be in place through April.