1,200+ child abuse/neglect cases per year
Guam - Arlene Gadia has been with Child Protective Services for the past 15 years and has been the social services supervisor overseeing the Investigation Section since 2001. She says her organization, along with the Guam Police Department, "authorize referrals of child abuse and neglect from the public on a daily basis; what we do is that we investigate those referrals abuse or neglect has happened and from there we work with the family to engage them in services to correct the problem."
Gadia's section and GPD handle the referrals islandwide, which is no easy feat. "On an average we receive about 1,200 referrals a year, and you can imagine we have seven investigators who are social workers by profession." Of the referrals investigated in 2010, over 400 were physical abuse followed by sexual abuse and emotional abuse. Regarding the issue of neglect, lack of adult supervision topped the list followed by medical and education neglect.
She mentions that there is a stigma that CPS removes children but stresses that is not the case unless it is really necessary. Also, "just because CPS may be called in to inquire about certain things that are happening in the family the purpose is that we can ensure that the child is safe and provide services to the family and to prevent further disruption or separation of the family member."
Gadia adds that at CPS, it's a partnership amongst professionals. "I think it's very important that all of us as professionals learn as much as we can about what other agencies are doing for children so if a situation comes up and your the first one approached your able to help the family," she said.
For more information on child abuse or to report abuse contact Guam Child Protective Services at 475-2653.