WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Hundreds of pinwheels dot the lawn of the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre, all to raise awareness about child abuse.

The pinwheel is normally a fun, lighthearted representation of childhood, but that’s not the message behind 500 of them now planted on the lawn of the Luzerne County Courthouse Wednesday morning.

“We want people to look at these pinwheels and see a child for every pinwheel that’s planted, knowing that these children were brave enough to come and disclose their abuse and to seek help and now they have a chance at a happy childhood.”

Shannon Peduto is the executive director of the Luzerne County Child Advocacy Center.

The non-profit serves families and children who fall victim to types of abuse throughout Luzerne County, offering medical examinations and forensic interviews.

“We have seen thousands and thousands of children come through, so approximately 500 children every single year are provided services through our center.”

Currently, in the United States, one out of every four girls and one out of every six boys will be abused before they reach the age of 18.

Peduto says many people are shocked when hearing the startling statistics in their own community.

“Since the pandemic, those numbers have only gone up. When the pandemic hit and everyone was in lockdown, all of those children were forced to be at home with their abusers, and physical abuse, sexual abuse, has just exponentially increased.”

The non-profit’s “Pinwheels for Prevention” has taken place for over 10 years; raising awareness about the abuse crisis, and raising funds to help children facing abuse.

“With all of those funds, it comes right back to the center for free services for these children.”