By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Each of the 210 spinning pinwheels decorating Wooster Green represents one case of child abuse or neglect investigated in Bowling Green last year.
“The number jars our senses,” Mayor Dick Edwards said Tuesday morning as the pinwheels whirled in the wind at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets.
“I know all of us feel sad to see that number up there,” he said, referring to the sign noting the 210 cases last year. The pinwheels stand as a visual reminder, the mayor said. “Children are Bowling Green’s most valuable and precious resource. This must be remedied.”
The pinwheels at Wooster Green represent only those cases in Bowling Green. For the first time, Wood County Children’s Services will be posting pinwheels throughout the county, to let people know that child abuse and neglect happen everywhere.
“This year we decided to take pinwheels on the road,” said Maricarol Torsok-Hrabovsky, of Wood County Job and Family Services. They have already been posted in Lake Township, Northwood, Rossford and the Eastwood area.
In all, there will be 894 pinwheels planted in the ground.
“Child abuse, unfortunately, in Wood County is on the rise,” said Dave Wigent, director of Job and Family Services.
Child abuse investigations increased in Wood County by nearly 25 percent in 2016 – a jump never seen before by the staff at Children’s Services. The number of cases went from 718 in 2015 up to 894 in 2016 – meaning 176 more child abuse investigations. Cases of abuse were reported in every community in the county.
The increase is being attributed to more people reporting child abuse or neglect cases when they see them, and to the rising opiate epidemic.
The number of physical abuse cases investigated in 2016 was 224, the number of sexual abuse cases was 142, the number of neglect cases was 439, and the number of emotional abuse cases was 19. Drugs were involved in 212 of the cases.
Wigent said the numbers so far this year are looking even worse.
“Now is not the time for us to slow down,” he said.
Wigent thanked the Bowling Green police, city prosecutor and city administration for their help in handling the cases.
“I appreciate all the good works of Jobs and Family Services,” Edwards said. “They try to make a difference in our community.”
Following is a list of the number of cases investigated in each community in the county in 2016:
- Bowling Green – 210
- Perrysburg – 186
- Northwood – 80
- North Baltimore – 73
- Weston – 50
- Rossford – 47
- Walbridge – 26
- Fostoria – 26
- Bradner – 24
- Grand Rapids – 22
- Millbury – 21
- Pemberville – 17
- Rudolph – 15
- Custar – 12
- Wayne – 12
- Cygnet – 11
- Bloomdale – 10
- Risingsun – 9
- Luckey – 9
- Toledo (LCCS) – 8
- Jerry City – 8
- Portage – 7
- Hoytville – 5
- Haskins – 3
- Milton Center – 3
A field of pinwheels representing all 894 cases in the county will be put up at Thayer Ford/Nissan, on Ohio 25 on the north end of Bowling Green. That will be done April 12 at 10 a.m., followed by a luncheon and silent auction at the courthouse atrium from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Local residents are encouraged to wear blue that day.
Anyone wanting to report possible child abuse or neglect may call 419-354-9669.