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Family Tree Center helps raise awareness for child abuse outside Yellowstone County courthouse

Posted at 5:34 PM, Apr 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-21 19:48:34-04

BILLINGS — April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the 14th annual display of pinwheels for prevention was held Thursday outside the Yellowstone County courthouse.

Organizers say it's a gesture aimed at raising awareness of the problem. And while the topic is difficult and heartbreaking, the pinwheel display on the courthouse lawn symbolizes something much more beautiful.

"The pinwheel is the symbol of a happy, healthy childhood that every child deserves," said Stacy Dreessen, executive director at the Family Tree Center.

More than 1 million children in the U.S. are impacted by child abuse or neglect each year. During the pandemic, child abuse cases declined, but experts say those numbers may be deceiving.

"But children were also at home and they were not around mandated reporters so the numbers have gone down,” said Dreessen.

The numbers have risen again over the past several months as the pandemic has improved.

These aren’t the only blue pinwheels blowing in the breeze.

Similar gardens have also popped up elsewhere, including outside the state Capitol in Helena and outside the state in New York, Los Angeles and even Hawaii.

It's a movement blowing in the breeze and sending a message of solidarity.