FAIRVIEW (CBSDFW.COM) – There are few things sweeter on a beautiful spring day, than pinwheels catching a warm breeze. But, the 1100 pinwheels installed on the lawn of Creekwood United Methodist Church in Fairview are designed to raise awareness of something far more sinister — child abuse.

“There were 1100 confirmed victims of abuse and each pinwheel represents a child,” says Janetta Michaels with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County. That’s just in Collin County… just last year.

“People do generally think it won’t happen in their neighborhood or in their family,” says Michaels.  “Child abuse knows no boundaries.”

The pinwheel installation at Creekwood is one of several popping up around North Texas this month, which is Child Abuse Awareness Month. But, organizers say they hope the eye catching installation will encourage action as well.

“It’s hard,” says Creekwood’s Pastor Holly Bandel, “particularly the first  time that you have to do it.”  Pastor Bandel says the church is hosting the installation because experience has taught her that abuse is not something that happens somewhere else.

“It happens everywhere.  I’ve been pastoring for 14 years and any community we’ve served… I’ve had to report abuse in every community I’ve served.”

And yes, she says, she has wondered ‘what if I’m wrong.’  But, decided that the more terrifying question when considering possible abuse is ‘what if I’m right.’

“For me, I can’t sleep at night knowing there might be a situation where a child isn’t safe. You don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors in families… and I see it more often than I ‘d like to. When you find out you just really wish you would have known and could have done something.”

Texas law makes every adult a ‘mandated reporter’, which means that if you see something—you must say something—and let the experts sort it out.

“You don’t have to witness the abuse, you don’t have to be able to prove it,” says Michaels. “But, you must report it.”
Advocates are encouraging the community to be the voice for the community’s most vulnerable.

“They can’t pick up the phone necessarily and protect themselves.  So, we’re really hoping that responsible adults will take on that responsibility and do that for them.”

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