Christian Rodriguez understands the frustration that can come with raising a 4-year-old.
"We all get stressed no matter who we are. We all get stressed even with the most wonderful children. They can cause you to feel emotions you didn't think you'd have," Rodriguez said.
And when she found out she was pregnant with her son, Cy, she knew she wanted to take precautions and began the parenting aide program at Early Advantages, a proactive child abuse prevention center.
"The families are not in our program because they'll abuse their kids, they are in our program so they can be the best parents they can be," said Esther Piper, the program director at Early Advantages.
To make a statement, the agency helped plant pinwheel gardens for April's Child Abuse Awareness Month. According to Piper, child abuse investigations in New York state have dropped since the start of 2012, but that's not true in Clinton County. Each pinwheel represents one child abuse investigation in the county last year-- a total of 140 cases.
"This is a reflection of our community, our community's needs," Piper said. "So, we have to do something. This is something that having these gardens, they are pretty to look at but they are a bigger picture."
Advocates say the majority of these investigations were sexual abuse and the age range for all the cases stemmed from 2 months to 18 years of age. Piper says it's a problem that is easily preventable and says there are immediate signs to look out for.
"Their sleeping patterns are changing, they're becoming isolated, they don't want to be playing with children, they don't want to be with an adult that they used to be around," Piper said.
In the meantime, Piper believes every family can learn to love and model a safe household for their children by reaching out for help provided in their area.
"Enjoy every moment and that frustration melts away when you remember he's just a kid," Rodriguez said.
The pinwheel project wraps up Friday in Clinton County, but the national movement will continue through the month of April.
For more information on child abuse from the New York Office of Children and Family Services or to report suspected abuse or maltreatment -- www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/cps OR 1-800-342-3720.
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