Blue pinwheels spin to commemorate National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Cindy Zimpfer, right, a Children’s Advocacy Center Foundation board member and Debbie Ha ...

The sapphire blue and silver pinwheels revolving in the tepid breeze are meant to invoke questions about what they represent.

The plastic wheels, resembling flowers in front of the Southern Nevada Children’s Advocacy Center, are planted across the U.S. to commemorate National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, and to show solidarity for the young victims, said Charletta Zamora-Cruz, a victim assistance specialist with the investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.

“The main focus is to have pinwheels on display to spread awareness throughout the community,” Zamora-Cruz said, “to help ensure that children have an opportunity to live in a free and stable environment.”

Advocates hope the campaign informs parents and the community that there is help available to “eradicate child abuse,” she said. Last year the pinwheels were featured prominently in front of the Nevada Legislature complex.

On Wednesday morning, advocates planted the pinwheels in a dirt area outside the advocacy center at 701 N. Pecos Road, a multi-purpose hub operated by Clark County in which local and federal agencies can conduct interviews into child abuse allegations, and where the advocates offer a variety of resources to needy families.

The center features rooms designed with children’s comfort in mind, Zamora-Cruz said.

Representatives from Clark County Child Protective Services, which probes a majority of all child abuse allegations in Nevada, also attended the event.

In fiscal year 2021, which ended in June, the Clark County agency received 25,172 referrals and launched 13,067 investigations, continuing a two-year downward trend, according to a Nevada Department of Health and Human Services report.

Those investigations “substantiated” abuse in 3,244 of the cases, the report shows.

In the current fiscal year, the agency had opened 7,846 investigations into 16,073 referrals. As of Jan. 31, probes had “substantiated” abuse in 1,960 cases, the report shows.

In fiscal year 2022 through Jan. 31, “physical injury neglect” was alleged in 47 percent of the cases, followed by “negligent treatment” in 40 percent of the cases; “physical injury abuse” in 8 percent of the cases; “substance exposed infant” in 3 percent of the cases, and sexual abuse in 1 percent of the cases, the report shows.

Zamora-Cruz reiterated that help is available.

“If you could just help one,” she said. “It makes a big difference.”

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @rickytwrites.