307 pinwheels for Calhoun County child abuse investigations - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

307 pinwheels for Calhoun County child abuse investigations

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ANNISTON, Ala. -

Calhoun County investigators and social workers want the community to see how many child abuse cases they handled in 2013.

Deputies and staff from the Calhoun/Cleburne Children's Center placed 307 pinwheels along high-traffic areas in Anniston and Jacksonville.  Each one represents a child abuse investigation from the previous year.

"The good thing about this is people see it and notice it as they drive back and forth to work or they go shop," Children's Center executive director Joe Nabors said.

"If we solve one case or save one child from being abused, that means a lot.  When a parent or a grandparent or a niece or nephew or maybe a neighbor sees this, they think that children are being abused in our area, and so they have a heightened sense of awareness."

Sheriff Larry Amerson said he hopes people will be on alert for possible signs of harm or abuse.  He said it important for concerned adults to give children an opportunity to reach out for help.

"It can be a trusted family friend, it can be somebody at church, it can be somebody that lives down the street," Amerson said.

"These children want to tell somebody [about the abuse] and they're looking for somebody to pass it along to."

Amerson said a child's life is bright, colorful, and energetic like a pinwheel.  However, in many cases of abuse, the child can become depressed, closed-off, and shy away from interaction.

"Through a period of therapy and counseling, we can see those children healed," Nabors said.  "Just like a pinwheel, they're very resilient, they go through so much but they're still standing."

While there were 307 investigations in 2013, there were not 307 abused children.  Some investigations found false reports.

"That is just as important as prosecuting the people that are guilty.  There are cases where people are falsely accused and our job and our goal is detect those and not pursue those cases," Sheriff Amerson said.

He said it is bad that there are so many pinwheels, and that it may seem a high number compared to other counties of similar size.  However, Amerson said that can be attributed to the dedication of his investigators to get tips and follow up on them.

"The good thing is that each one of these represents a child where we pursued the person who harmed them.  We did everything we possibly could to prosecute them and we brought many to justice," he said.

The pinwheel displays are at the intersection of Quintard Avenue and Ninth Street in Anniston, next to the southbound lanes, and on Pelham Road in Jacksonville, in front of Dr. David Chandler's office across from Walmart.

If you suspect a child might be a victim of abuse, contact your local law enforcement agency.

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