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Pinwheels Displayed At Rady Children’s Hospital Represent Child Abuse Victims

A display of royal blue pinwheels were set up on the front lawn at Rady Children’s Hospital to represent abused or neglected children over the past year.

A display of 1,800 royal blue pinwheels were set up on Wednesday on the front lawn at Rady Children’s Hospital to represent the number of abused or neglected children treated at the hospital’s Chadwick Center over the past year.

The display was set up to mark National Child Abuse Prevention Month and to raise awareness of the issue of abuse and neglect.

“We see children in the immediate aftermath of an abuse — either physical abuse where they’re brought to our emergency department, or sexual abuse where they come in for what’s called a sexual assault exam,” said Charles Wilson, senior director of the center. “Or we see children who may have been abused a year ago and are now just telling their parents or telling someone about it and they come to us.”

Photo by Matthew Bowler

A display of pinwheels at Rady Children's Hospital represent child abuse victims treated at the hospital's Chadwick Center over the past year, April 5, 2017.

The center’s patients are just the tip of the iceberg, he said. Across San Diego County, more than 43,000 children suffered from neglect or physical or emotional abuse, according to the county’s Health and Human Services Agency.

The effects of child abuse are lifelong, leading to mental illness, substance abuse, heart disease and even cancer, Wilson said.

Rady Children’s child abuse pediatrician Dr. Premi Suresh said she examines or treats as many as eight children in a single day. She said that's why it’s important for the community to know how to help prevent the abuse.

"Child abuse is the result of stress in a household that I think can be mitigated by community support, by reducing social isolation, by reducing stress that families feel," Dr. Suresh said.

If you know or suspect that a child is being abused, you’re urged to call the county’s child abuse hot line at (858) 560-2191.

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