Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting-Guam

The Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act of Guam aims to protect children from abuse.  The Act specifically states that steps necessary to prevent psychological harm to a child victim must be taken while investigating child abuse cases. [i]

Guam law requires any person who comes into contact with children in their professional or occupational capacity to report instances of suspected child abuse or neglect.[ii] Persons required to report are: health care professionals such as  licensed physician, medical examiner, dentist, osteopath, optometrist, chiropractor, podiatrist, intern, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, mental health professional, or any other hospital employee engaged in the admission, examination, care or treatment of people; school employees such as administrator, teacher, nurses, or counselor; christian science practitioner; social services worker; person engaged in the care of a child such including a day care, child care or foster care worker; and a person in public protection positions, for example a peace officer or a law enforcement official.[iii] Apart from the persons mandated by law to report instances of suspected child abuse or neglect, any other person may report suspected child abuse or neglect. [iv]

Abused or neglected child is a child whose physical or mental health is harmed or threatened to be harmed because of acts or omissions of a person responsible for the child’s welfare.[v] Examples of incidents where a child’s physical or mental health is said to be harmed are: [vi]

  • Skin bruising, bleeding, or any other internal bleeding; burns; poisoning; bone fracture; soft tissue swelling ; extreme pain; impairment of any body organ; or death which is not an accidental occurrence.
  • Harm to the psychological capacity of a child.  For example, verbal degradation; mental distress; and failure to thrive.
  • Sexual abuse of the child
  • Injury to the physical health of a child caused due to lack of adequate food, clothing, shelter, psychological care, physical care, health care or supervision when the person responsible for the care of the child is in a sound financial position.  However, if a person responsible for the care of the child withdraws from providing medical treatment to the child based on his/her legitimate religious belief, the person cannot be said to have caused harm to the child.
  • Cases where a child is provided with a controlled substance.  However, controlled substances may be provided to the child as a part of medical treatment on a practitioner’s prescription

Oral reports of suspected child abuse or neglect have to be made immediately over telephone to the Child Protective Services or the Guam Police Department.  A written report must be submitted within 48 hours of the oral report.[vii] Any person must not refrain from providing any information or reporting to the concerned authority on the ground of “privileged communications”. [viii] Such privileges are specifically excluded with respect to reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. [ix]

While performing official duties if any commercial film and photographic print processor comes to know of or observes any film, photograph, video tape, negative or slide of a child under the age of 18 engaged in an act of sexual conduct, such instances of suspected child abuse must be immediately reported to the Child Protective Services.  Initially the person must make an oral report over the phone.  Within 48 hours of receiving information of the suspected child abuse, a written report must also be submitted.  The written report must be accompanied with a copy of the film, photograph, video tape, negative or slide.[x] The term “sexual conduct” as defined in 19 GCA § 13201(c) include acts such as: sexual intercourse between persons of the same or opposite sex or between humans and animals; masturbation, exhibition of the genitals, pubic or rectal areas, or sadomasochistic abuse for the purpose of sexual stimulation of the viewer; or penetration of the vagina or rectum by any object.

Immediately after receiving a report, the Child Protective Services shall make a telephone report to the Guam Police Department and to the Attorney General’s Office of every known or suspected instance of child abuse except acts or omissions coming within subsection (t) (4) of § 13101 (dealing with cases where the physical health of a child is adversely affected due to lack of food, clothing, shelter, psychological care, physical care, health care or supervision on the part of the person responsible for the care of the child.)  Within 48 hours of receiving the report of child abuse or neglect, Child Protective Services shall also send a written report to the Guam Police Department and to the Attorney General’s Office.[xi]

Similarly, the Guam Police Department must make a telephone report of every known or suspected instance of child abuse reported to it, except acts or omissions coming within subsection (t) (4) of § 13101.  The report must be made to the Child Protective Services and to the Attorney General’s Office.  The acts or omissions referred in § 13101(t)(4) must only be reported to Child Protective Services. The Police Department shall also send a written report within 48 hours of receiving information regarding the incident.[xii]

If the report involves any active duty military personnel or their dependents, the Child Protective Services and the Guam Police Department shall immediately report to the appropriate Department of Defense Family Advocacy Program.  The report may be made over the telephone.[xiii]

Reporting forms shall be made available to all person required to report incidents of child abuse or neglect.[xiv] The forms shall be developed and distributed by the Child Protective Services.[xv] All reports of child abuse or neglect must contain:[xvi]

  • name of the person making the report.  Persons other than mandated reporters making reports may also be asked to disclose their name;
  • name, age, sex, and present location of the child;
  • nature and extent of injury;
  • any other relevant information such as factors that that led the reporter to suspect child abuse that may be requested by the child protective agency   receiving the report;
  • Any other information that is relevant to the case of child abuse or neglect may also be disclosed to the investigator from a child protective agency;
  • name of the person responsible for the suspected abuse or neglect;
  • the child’s family composition;
  • actions taken by the reporting source; and
  • any other information that child protective agency may require by regulation.

Child Protective Services shall initiate the development and implementation of cooperative arrangements for the investigation of a case.  Within 36 hours of starting an investigation of child abuse or neglect, the Guam Police Department shall report to Child Protective Services that it is investigating the case. [xvii]

Any mandated reporter who suspects that a child died as a result of child abuse or neglect shall report that fact to the chief medical examiner. The chief medical examiner shall accept the report for investigation and shall report the findings to the Guam Police Department, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Child Protective Services.  If the report is made by hospital personnel, the result of the investigation shall be reported to the hospital as well. [xviii]

The Child Protective Services shall: [xix]

  • Establish an active file of child abuse or neglect reports under investigation and cases where services are being provided.
  • Establish a central register of child abuse or neglect which contains name of the victim and details of the case.
  • Establish and maintain a 24-hour telephone reporting system that may be used by mandated reporters or any other person to report instances of child abuse or neglect.

Any information from the central register shall not be released unless Child Protective Services has identified the person requesting the information and determines that he/she is in legitimate need of the requested information.[xx]

If the child abuse or neglect of a child is not proved within one year from the date of the report, such reports shall be considered as a report where substantial evidence of child abuse does not exist. All information identifying the subjects of such report shall be expunged from Child Protective Services’ suspected files. [xxi]

The Child Protective Services receives report round the clock, and commences investigation of the case within 72 hours of receiving the report.  After considering the safety of the child, it shall notify the subjects of the report that a report of child abuse or neglect has been filed.  The investigation will be completed within 60 days of receiving the report.[xxii]

The investigation includes determination of the risk of the children continuing in their home, and an evaluation of the nature, extent and cause of any condition mentioned in the report.  It shall also determine if the child is harmed by factors beyond the control of the child’s parents or the person responsible for the welfare of the child, and if so determined take appropriate steps to improve such conditions. [xxiii]

The Child Protective Services shall also take a child into protective custody to prevent the child from further abuse.  After conducting an investigation, the Child Protective Services shall contract with public or private agencies in order to protect the child.  It shall also appoint a guardian ad litem for the child, if required.  Child Protective Services shall assist the court during all stages of trial.[xxiv] Upon receiving a report, the Child Protective Services shall make attempts to find out if any other member of the house is also abused or neglected. [xxv]

Any person, hospital, institution, school, facility or agency participating in good faith in making a report or testifying in any proceeding arising out of an instance of suspected child abuse or neglect shall be immune from civil or criminal liability that might otherwise result from such actions.  The immunity also applies to the taking of photographs or the removal or keeping of a child pursuant to § 13302 (dealing with the protective custody of a child without a court order) of the Child Protective Act.[xxvi]

Any person who knowingly fails to report instances of child abuse or neglect is guilty of a misdemeanor.  Penalty for the failure to report shall include confinement for a term up to six months, a fine up to $ 1,000 or both. A second or subsequent conviction shall be a felony in the third degree.  Fines collected for the failure to report is deposited in the Victims Compensation Fund.[xxvii]

Reports of child abuse or neglect shall be kept confidential.  Information may be released only if permitted by law, and is necessary for the safety of the child.  The information may be disclosed to multidisciplinary teams to help in the disposition of cases; courts of competent jurisdiction to determine the case before it; grand juries; military and governmental authorities investigating the case; physician treating a child who suspects that the child is a victim of child abuse or neglect; any agency or individual authorized, contracted or licensed to diagnose, care or treat a child who is the subject of a report of abuse or neglect; a guardian ad litem, attorney for the child, permanent foster or adoptive parent responsible for the welfare of the child; or any authorized official of the Department of Public Health and Social Services and its authorized representatives. However, the identity of the reporter must be kept confidential and should not be disclosed unless permitted by law. [xxviii]

The reporter’s identity shall be disclosed only to child protective agencies, counsel representing a child protective agency, the Attorney General’s Office in a criminal prosecution or Family Court action, or any licensing agency when abuse in licensed out-of-home care is suspected.  However, the reporter’s identity may not be kept confidential if so required by a court order, or if the reporter agreed to disclose his name.[xxix]

Unauthorized disclosure of any information in the report will be punishable, and considered as a felony of the third degree. [xxx]


[i] 19 GCA § 13200

[ii] 19 GCA § 13201(a)

[iii] 19 GCA § 13201(b)

[iv] 19 GCA § 13202

[v] 19 GCA § 13101(b)

[vi] 19 GCA § 13101(t)

[vii] 19 GCA § 13203(a)

[viii] 19 GCA § 13201(a)

[ix] 19 GCA § 13201(b)

[x] 19 GCA § 13201(c)

[xi] 19 GCA § 13203(b)

[xii] 19 GCA § 13203(b)

[xiii] 19 GCA § 13203(b)

[xiv] 19 GCA § 13203(e)

[xv] 19 GCA § 13204

[xvi] 19 GCA § 13203(c)

[xvii] 19 GCA § 13204

[xviii] 19 GCA § 13205

[xix] 19 GCA § 13208

[xx] 19 GCA § 13208(c)

[xxi] 19 GCA § 13208(f)

[xxii] 19 GCA § 13209

[xxiii] 19 GCA § 13209

[xxiv] 19 GCA § 13209

[xxv] 19 GCA § 13209.1

[xxvi] 19 GCA § 13206

[xxvii] 19 GCA § 13207

[xxviii] 19 GCA § 13210

[xxix] 19 GCA § 13203(d)

[xxx] 19 GCA § 13210


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