This letter is on behalf of the Gila Family Advocacy Center, where my staff and I live and breathe the world of child abuse every single day.
Depressing as that may sound, we love what we do. Our duties and responsibilities include things like: conducting forensic interviews and forensic medical exams; providing advocacy and referral services to victims and their non-offending family members; attending and conducting professional trainings; educating community groups and families; facilitating multidisciplinary team meetings and case reviews; honoring joint investigations protocols; writing reports; testifying in court; collecting data; networking with other professionals; organizing special events; and promoting child abuse prevention. We have completed hundreds of hours of training, we have acquired highly specialized equipment and we are prepared to respond 24/7/365.
We do not do this work in isolation. We work as part of a larger team of law enforcement and CPS investigators, prosecutors, mental health providers, social workers and educators throughout Gila County. Each of those professionals brings a critical piece to the process of child abuse investigations and we rely on each other to ensure that the best possible effort is being put forth to protect children and promote justice.
That said, I want to extend an invitation to all responsible adults in Gila County to consider themselves a part of the larger investigative team. As adults, you are the eyes and ears of our communities and you are the ones who best know the children in your families, neighborhoods, schools, sports teams and churches. If you do your part to report suspicions of child abuse to the proper authorities, then the professionals can take it from there.
If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, report it. If you don’t know how to report child abuse, call us, we’ll teach you. If you are a parent, take the time to educate and prepare your children so they can protect themselves. If you don’t know how to bring it up with your kids, call us. We’ve got child-friendly materials that will help you. Let us come in and train the members of your family, church, business or organization.
April is Child Abuse Prevention month. It’s as good a time as any to start thinking about how we, as a community, can work together to protect our youth from becoming victims of the most unspeakable of crimes.
The Gila Family Advocacy Center is a program of Time Out, Inc. We can be reached at (928) 472-4544.
program director/forensic interviewer