PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — People around the country are wearing blue today in honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

April has been set aside to support survivors of child abuse and recognize the agencies that help them.

The Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center set out “Pinwheels for Prevention” to spread awareness to the community about the work they do to prevent child abuse.

“The pinwheels are a big part of that outward display of what we are trying to show the community
and taking time to talk to the community about the prevention efforts that are being done. Our agency, along with all those other agencies do a lot of work in our community on the day-to-day,” Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center Chief Operating Officer Brent Patrick said.

That daily work includes teaching firefighters, teachers, and law enforcement the signs of child abuse.

“The children’s advocacy center here and our community partners with the Department of Children and Families and law enforcement try to take this time to show the work that is being done in our communities and to spread the word about child abuse so that hopefully we can end child abuse in our community,” Patrick said.

In 2021, the CAC saw around 1800 new kids in their agency that were victims of child abuse.

There are indicators of abuse if you know the signs.

Things like unexplained bruises or burns and children that are frightened of a parent or guardian.

“We like to tell people just to listen to children and if you see something you say something,” Patrick said. “We talk about those gut feelings that people often get when they see something and they know it’s just not right.”

To learn more about the signs and effects of child abuse visit the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center website. There you can also find a list of resources.

Experts said you should report any suspected case of a child being abused, abandoned or neglected to the Florida Abuse Hotline 1-800-96-ABUSE.