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West Valley City Journal

Salt Lake County Mayor proclaims April as Child Abuse Prevention Month

May 05, 2023 12:59PM ● By Peri Kinder

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson proclaimed April to be Child Abuse Prevention Month during a pinwheel planting ceremony. The pinwheels represent the 9,695 confirmed cases of child abuse in Utah last year. (City Journals)

The thousands of beautiful blue pinwheels spinning in the sun on the lawn of the Salt Lake County Government Building (2001 S. State St.) represent a sad reality. In 2022, there were 9,695 confirmed cases of child abuse in Utah and each pinwheel represents a child who experienced child abuse.

On April 10, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson declared April to be Child Abuse Prevention Month. She invited county officials and personnel from the Family Support Center to join her in dedicating the pinwheel garden to these children.

“I’m a mom and it’s just unthinkable to imagine what a child goes through,” Wilson said. “I will tell you, everyone here is completely committed to the cause and wants better for our community.”

Jocelyn De La Rosa serves as the executive director at the Salt Lake Family Support Center (1760 W. 4805 South), an organization that provides mental health services, child care, transitional housing and counseling to parents. The agency is dedicated to diffusing the stress related to domestic violence and abuse. 

She said it’s not enough to talk about child abuse statistics but there needs to be solutions. Parents who have access to resources and have their basic needs met have fewer risk factors for abuse. 

“We cannot continue to shame, abuse and neglect and stigmatize those who need resources and help,” De La Rosa said. “Our job as part of this community is to support all of our neighbors and friends when they need it most. We know that asking for help is a sign of strength.”

It’s her mission to prevent abuse through education, resources and programs like parenting classes and crisis child care. She encouraged the community to work together to reduce cases of abuse, and to learn the signs of child abuse. 

A wide range of child abuse symptoms include bruising or burns, chronic abdominal pain, poor hygiene, social withdrawal, substance abuse and frequent absenteeism from school. 

Staff at the Family Support Center know that abuse and neglect is often the result of parents not having a healthy support system. It identifies five protective factors for parents as contributing to stable and safe homes: resilience, social connection, knowledge of parenting and child development, developing social and emotional competence in children, and having access to concrete support like housing and child care.

“This [number] doesn’t account for the cases that are unconfirmed which is highly important for all of us to be aware, to know what the signs are and to be aware of how to report, and how do we make sure we get support for these families,” De La Rosa said. “We know that if one child is not safe, then none of the children in our community are safe.”

Officials who attended the event included Salt Lake County Councilmembers Laurie Stringham and Suzanne Harrison, Salt Lake County Recorder Rashelle Hobbs and Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera. 

“We are committed to working together to make sure every child is safe in Salt Lake County,” Harrison said. “Every child deserves to be safe and have the ability to thrive. I hope for a day when we no longer have any pinwheels to plant in celebration of healthy kids everywhere.”

To learn more about the Family Support Center, visit λ