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15th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
ACYF Commissioner's Award Book
Vaaomala Kennedy Sunia
Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Bureau
Vaaomala Kennedy Sunia, "Vaa" to his community, is the Commander of the Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Bureau under the American Samoa Department of Public Safety. A police officer for 17 years, he primarily serves as a criminal investigator but also devotes much of his time to increasing community awareness of crime, specifically, crimes against children and families.
For the last two years, Commander Sunia has led the local Prevent Child Abuse Task Force in community outreach and education. Together with his dedicated staff, he organized a presentation slide show on child abuse that has become well-known across the island, reaching as far as New Zealand, Western Samoa, and the University of Hawaii.
In American Samoa, where child abuse and neglect typically is not addressed publicly, Commander Sunia has taken bold steps to educate parents, families, first responders, service providers, faith-based communities, and the community at-large. He uses straightforward language, tells candid stories and experiences, and shares detailed descriptions of the faces of child abuse and neglect.
Clearly, Commander Sunia has helped American Samoa to face the reality of child abuse and neglect. He speaks out about what he sees as a police officer and the impact it has on him directly as a father, brother, uncle, as well as a respected member of the community. His actions reflect his dedication and commitment to preventing and treating child abuse and neglect in American Samoa.