By THE HERALD-WHIG STAFF
Transitions of Western Illinois provided a needed -- but unfortunate -- reminder Thursday at its 4409 Maine campus.
"For the 16th year, Transitions is reminding people in our area that we must protect and nurture children," said Mike Rein, executive director of Transitions.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Transitions is one of many agencies across the nation involved with various child-abuse campaigns. Transitions is working in conjunction with the Prevent Child Abuse Illinois movement that encourages adults to nurture children.
Various civic and community officials were on hand today at Transitions to create awareness for Child Abuse Prevention Month.
At the heart of the gathering was a 12-foot pinwheel, a symbol of Child Abuse Prevention Month that represents "change and energy." The pinwheel will stand in the front lawn at Transitions the rest of the month, as will a display of life-sized children.
During 2012, there were 26,000 Illinois children found to be victims of abuse and/or neglect. About 300 of those were in Adams County.
Barb Baker Chapin, the director of development at Transitions, said the number of abused and neglected children has declined since the mid-1990s, but remains a problem.
"Increased awareness of child abuse and prevention efforts have been effective in reducing the number of child victims," Baker Chapin said, "There has been a 40 percent decrease since 1996."
Locally, Baker Chapin says the numbers continue to portray a significant problem.
"The rate of child abuse/neglect in Adams County tends to be higher than the state average," she said.
According to the most-recent statistics provided by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, the rate of child abuse in Adams County is 17.3 children per 1,000, which is more than double the 8 per 1,000 statewide average.
Children from Cheerful Home provided musical entertainment, and local law enforcement officials tied blue antenna ribbons to law enforcement vehicles. The event concluded with a balloon release.
Transitions is sponsoring a Family Fun Fair 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 27, at the Transition School gymnasium (formerly St. Boniface School) at 732 Hampshire. Area child- and family-serving agencies will have booths at the event.
The Family Fun Fair will also provide activities and games. The fair is for children ages birth to 5 years. Admission is free.
Those wishing to have blue antenna ribbons, or with questions about the Family Fun Fair, should contact Baker Chapin at (217) 223-0413.