CHICAGO (CBS) — Child abuse prevention advocates gathered in front of Navy Pier on Wednesday with an important message: everyone can help prevent child abuse.

Voluteers with Prevent Child Abuse America handed out hundreds of blue and white pinwheels, which have become the group’s symbol of the wish for all children to be able to grow up with their innocence intact. The group has handed out more than 3.5 million pinwheels nationwide over the past six years.

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Many of the volunteers are victims of child abuse and Prevent Child Abuse America President Jim Hmurovich said everyone can help change that.

“On an individual basis, we can help out a parent in distress. We know when a parent is in distress. We see it publicly sometimes. There’s ways to help out and offer our assistance,” he said.

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Hmurovich said research suggests when a child has been abused or neglected, there’s a higher risk for problems with their health, with substance abuse, and with criminal behavior.

Ald. Mary O’Connor (41st) has been a major supporter the Pinwheels for Prevention program.

“The pinwheel reminds us of innocence and kindness,” she said. “It reminds us all that carefree, healthy, and happy childhoods all children should have.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said it breaks his heart to think about kids being abused.

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“For our children to live up to their full potential, we as adults must live up to our full responsibility,” he said.