Gahanna Lincoln High School students hope 695 pinwheels on the school lawn will help raise awareness of child abuse.

Gahanna Lincoln High School students hope 695 pinwheels on the school lawn will help raise awareness of child abuse.

The pinwheels represent the 6,954 children reportedly abused in Franklin County in 2007.

For the first time, the school is participating in Prevent Child Abuse Ohio's fourth annual Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign: "88 in 08."

Pinwheels for Prevention is a statewide public-awareness campaign designed to bring attention to child abuse and neglect. The campaign began in Georgia.

In April, communities throughout Ohio plant colorful children's pinwheels in front of courthouses, playgrounds, libraries and parks. Each pinwheel represents a case of child abuse and/or neglect reported to children-services agencies in Ohio. In 2002, 95,665 cases of child abuse and/or neglect were reported in Ohio.

The Pinwheels at GLHS were planted by 117 students in the high school's Family, Career and Community Leaders of America Club.

Senior Kali Sanders, a student in the parent and child-development class, said the pinwheels made students aware of the increased rate of child abuse in Franklin County and how rapidly the number of child-abuse cases has grown.

"It is important to make sure our generation ends and stops child abuse," senior Jordan Feirerman said.

Junior Johneah Morgan said most people don't realize the number of child-abuse cases reported each year.

"It's pretty overwhelming, that many cases," she said, noting that many more cases aren't reported.

Students in the parent and child-development class learn coping mechanisms for staying calm when challenged by a child. Student Nawal Al-Mansour said parents have to step back from the situation before they take it out on a child.

Students also learned the importance of getting involved if they suspect child abuse. Morgan said some children might not complain for fear of being beaten by their parents.

"Keeping the secret is the worst thing," Al-Mansour said.

Feirerman said anyone who suspects child abuse should call authorities.

The parent and child-development class is an elective that allows students to learn parenting skills.

"It is not as fun as people think," Al-Mansour said.

Morgan said the class also addresses remarriage and the importance of parents selecting spouses they want to be around their child.

Work and Family Life teacher Carol Herr said child abuse is an epidemic. She tries to teach her students techniques for relating to children. Students learn to take a break before child abuse occurs.

"This is the most difficult job you will have," Herr said. "It is the one with the least amount of training."

For more information about child-abuse prevention, call 1-800-CHILDREN or visit www.pcao.org.