Child abuse prevention the focus of colorful pinwheel display outside City Hall
May 08, 2018 12:02PM
By Carl Fauver
The annual child abuse prevention month pinwheel display has become a key public awareness project for the Taylorsville Exchange Club. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
A whimsical display outside Taylorsville City Hall through the month of April was designed again this year to remind residents to be vigilant in helping to curb one of our state’s most serious problems.
“This was our seventh year to put the pinwheels in the lawn outside City Hall,” Taylorsville Exchange Club Secretary Renee Sorensen said. “They are such a great visual because they twirl and sparkle. But more important, we hope the pinwheels open discussions between parents and kids about the problem of child abuse in our state and the need to report incidents.”
Sadly, Utah regularly ranks among the top 10 states with the highest rates of child sexual abuse. U.S. Health and Human Services Department data reported the state eighth on such a list, three years ago.
Additionally, the American Society for the Positive Care of Children was founded in 2011 after its research showed over the past  years, more than 20,000 American children are believed to have been killed in their own homes by family members. That is nearly four times the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Nationally, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before turning age 18. In Utah, the child sex abuse rate is three times the national average.
With those unsettling statistics as a backdrop, the city council unanimously passed a resolution declaring “April 2018 is child abuse prevention month in Taylorsville.”
Mayor Kristie Overson read the proclamation, with passages including “Taylorsville’s greatest asset is our children” and “child abuse is a serious problem affecting thousands of children in the Salt Lake Valley annually.”
“The Taylorsville Exchange Club was established at the same time the city was incorporated, in 1996,” Sorensen said. “Child abuse prevention had been taken up as a key cause by the national Exchange Club organization years before (1979). So our local club immediately began to support the cause as well."
Sorensen is one of four founding members of the Taylorsville Exchange Club who has remained active since day one. The club’s Facebook page indicates the organization focuses on four primary service programs:
- Child abuse prevention
- Youth programs
- Community service
The club is made up of local volunteers who are passionate about their community and use the club as a platform to serve and recognize others who are making a positive impact. Members meet the first and third Wednesday of each month from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. at Taylorsville City Hall.
In addition to the city council passing its child abuse prevention month proclamation, another elected official who calls Taylorsville home is also focused on curbing the problem. Last month in this publication — and other editions of the City Journal — Salt Lake County Council Chair Aimee Winder Newton penned the column, “Staggering child abuse rates prompt education.”
In it, Newton wrote: “Our greatest role — whether as parents, educators or elected officials — is to protect our family from harm as we help them grow into adults who live, work and raise a family.”
The county council chair invited people to learn more about the problem and ways to help combat it by visiting www.pcautah.org, the Prevent Child Abuse Utah website.
“I’ve been particularly impressed with Prevent Child Abuse Utah as they’ve gone school to school throughout Utah educating teachers and kids about the issue,” Newton wrote. “I’ve been so impressed. I’ve served on their board for the last couple years, trying to help advance their mission.”
Winder also encourages people to visit the PCA Utah website to take a free, half-hour online parenting course.
On the final day of March, Taylorsville Exchange Club members and volunteers planted 480 pinwheels. Club officials say the colorful toys are meant to reflect the bright future all children deserve, while also symbolizing the positive impact adults can have when they get involved in preventing child abuse.
The local Exchange Club remains busy throughout the year hosting youth programs and awards, sponsoring scholarships and conducting events such as meet the candidate nights. But Sorensen said the club will continue to shine a spotlight on the tragedy of child abuse until it is eradicated.
"We do have child abuse in all of our communities," she said. "I know people like to think we don't, but we do. As parents and grandparents, we need to get educated."