Across the Commonwealth, thousands of tiny blue pinwheels staked in the ground flutter in the springtime breeze. Much more than garden ornaments, the decorations symbolize a dark past and a hopeful future for children in Virginia.
William & Mary Psychology Professor Emeritus Joseph Galanoand Adjunct Professor of Psychology Lee Huntington know the significance of the pinwheels perhaps better than anyone. As lead advocates for Prevent Child Abuse, which declared the pinwheel its national symbol in 2008, they’ve been at the forefront of the crusade to raise awareness and ultimately end abuse and neglect in the Commonwealth for more than three decades — before prevention programs were really even a thing.
“In terms of abuse, it used to be that you would intervene early if you found that a child had been abused or neglected by their parents,” said Huntington. “That’s how our Child Protective Services was initially set up. But preventionists for years said rather than picking up the bodies downstream, let’s go upstream to where they’re getting thrown into the river and try to intervene at that point and keep the problem from developing in the first place.”
It turns out, science backs that approach, too. According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children who are exposed to adverse experiences, including abuse, neglect or parental dysfunction at all in childhood are far more likely to develop long-term health and behavioral problems as adults — and the numbers are staggering.
[For more of this story, written by Marisa Spyker, go to http://www.wm.edu/news/stories...lect-in-virginia.php]