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Planting of pinwheels raising awareness over child abuse and neglect

(Photo Courtesy/Mike Beiermeister) Students from Alcona High School plant pinwheels to raise awareness for child abuse and neglect during the month of April.

Harrisville, Mich. — Monday kicks off Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States. This afternoon, members of the Alcona County community gathered to plant pinwheels.

Pinwheels are the national symbol of child abuse and neglect prevention. These symbols now fill part of the lawn at the Alcona County Court House. The organization Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention for Alcona County has been inviting the community to plant pinwheels since 2007.

Over 41,000 children are victims of abuse or neglect in Michigan. In Alcona County, 35 children were confirmed victims of abuse or neglect in 2018.

“As a community, if we shy away from addressing that as an issue, we do a disservice to our community,” said Stephanie Dettloff, Executive Director for Child Family Services of Northeast Michigan. “That’s one of the things that just really strikes me when I think of that number, and just the impact it has, certainly, not only on children, but, again just on our community.”

Actions you can take to help children and parents can be as little as checking in or setting a good example. If you think you know a child experiencing abuse or neglect, please take action. Call the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services toll free number at 855-444-3911.

Here are some actions you can take to help children and their parents.

  1. Be a good example.
    Respect your family members. Use a courteous tone of voice with them. When children misbehave, let them know that you dislike what they did, not who they are. Don’t hit your kids; violence teaches violence. Apologize when you’re wrong. Say “I love you” more often. Reward good behavior.

  2. Be a friend to a parent.
    Listen. Sometimes, just being able to express anger and frustration helps ease tensions. Go shopping with a parent and child. Children are usually better behaved when their adults are happier and more relaxed. Invite a parent to go jogging, bowling or golfing. Exercise helps relieve stress.

  3. Reach out to neighbors or relatives with children.
    Offer to babysit to give them a much-needed break.

  4. Praise and encourage the children you know.
    Mean words can make a child feel worthless, ugly, and unloved, and the hurt can last a lifetime. So be positive. Tell a child you’re proud of him/her and why. Stick up for children; don’t let others tease or make fun of them. Smile. Let children know they are important to you. Say to them, “You’re terrific. I like you!”

  5. Take action…don’t wait for someone else to do it!
    Arrange for a speaker on child abuse and neglect to come to your PTA, church, club, or workplace. The more we all know about abuse and neglect, the more we can do to stop it. Call Catherine Nickell-Simpson, CCHW, Patient Navigator/Community Health Worker, Alcona Health Center, at (989) 739-2550, #1270 to schedule training.

  6. Volunteer.
    Volunteer your time at the Chosen Ranch in one of the following areas: gardening, construction, farming, mentoring/teaching or special youth events. Call the Chosen Ranch at (989) 335-4673. Volunteer to help with a parenting support program, drug abuse prevention or treatment program, or shelter for the homeless. Support My Brother’s Hope, the Tiger store at Alcona High School, Child and Family Services of Northeast MI or the Alcona Food Pantry.

  7. Set up an after-school-hours program at a retirement home. It’s hard to tell who benefits more from such an arrangement, the children or the elders.

  8. Join the ‘Carpenters Club’ at Habitat for Humanity Northeast MI. Work with others in your church, club, or workplace to repair homes of disadvantaged families to make them more livable for children. To volunteer, call (989) 354-5555, x1000.


  1. Host a baby shower or volunteer at the Alcona County Baby Pantry.
    Invite friends and neighbors to bring items for needy infants and children. The Alcona County Baby pantry is a good location to donate the items; “like” their Face Book page. Call the pantry at (989) 305-5440 or (989) 335-1064.

  2. Be a mentor.
    Help a pregnant teenager learn parenting skill or be a mentor to a pre-teen.

  3. Help Children Read. Alcona Elementary School needs volunteer mentors to work with children who need help with reading. Call Rev. Joe Jenney at (260) 804-5476 or email

  4. Learn more about child abuse and child abuse prevention. Teach others. Plan an adult education program in your church, club, or organization to inform people about children’s needs. Open your group’s facility to local education programs for parents.

  5. Become a foster parent. It’s not an easy job, but the rewards are great when you help a child learn what it feels like to be safe. Call Karen Hayes, Iosco/Alcona County Foster Care Licensing Specialist at (989) 254-3779.

  6. Help a foster child get a good start.
    Call a Foster Care Navigator at 855-MICHKIDS to get started.

  7. Get involved with the child welfare board in your county.

  8. Understand which children are most likely to be abused.
    Although child abuse occurs in all racial, ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic groups, physical abuse and neglect are more likely among people living in poverty. Children who are most likely to be abused are children who have special needs, born prematurely, unwanted, stubborn, inquisitive, demanding, or have a disability.

  9. Learn to recognize the signs of abuse. Know the signs of neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. Attend a Stewards of Children Training to learn more. Contact Catherine Nickell-Simpson, CCHW, Patient Navigator/Community Health Worker, Alcona Health Center, at (989) 739-2550, #1270.

  10. Report suspected child abuse and neglect.
    If you suspect abuse or neglect, call 855-444-3911 any time day or night. This toll-free phone number allows you to report abuse or neglect of any child or adult to the Michigan Department of Human Services.

  11. Donate to the Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Council for Alcona County (CANPAC) that works to support programs for prevention.

Need additional resources?

Contact the Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Council for Alcona County (CANPAC)

P.O. Box 46, Lincoln, MI 48742 (800) 354-2880

Coordinator Email: