United States

Bringing Child Abuse to Light

March 16, 2020

Child abuse is often talked about but never seen being brought to light.  In 2013, a child endangerment case was brought to the supreme court, which shocked many people. The case involved an 8-year-old boy who was tortured to death by his mother and her boyfriend. This case was the first to been brought to the supreme court from the LA county concerning child abuse. The case was taken to the ninth floor of the LA County CourtHouse, 2Paraghraphs shares “ where the worst of the worst go to have their cases heard. It’s where Judge Lance Ito’s courtroom is. It’s also where non-famous but sensitive criminal trials take place–the only floor where you pass through a second security check.” Many famous cases happen on the 9th floor such as the OJ Simpson case for example. The outbreak and media of the Gabriel Fernandez case was very heartbreaking and caught everyone’s attention. Since the case had so much publicity and was in the eye of the media it led to a bigger investigation in order to give answers and serve justice for the media, press, and community. With the media outbreak and the case being talked about with one another, adults and children began to wonder if they are taking the right precautions and steps to ensure that a child’s safety is not on the line. During the case, Teachers and workers noticed many signs of abuse but did not know what to do with the information. It is time to see right from wrong and allow for more teachers, adults, caretakers and even those young to be more informed about the signs of child abuse and allowing them to know the necessary precautions to take when a child is in harm. Those who have the ability of power need to take action and address these signs. Those who have the proper authority need to use the power that they have to voice the lives of these kids, give them a better life and a second chance of having a family. Perhaps if the right steps and precautions were taken based on the signs of Gabriel’s physical appearance like having black eyes, scabs, etc, this life could have been saved. We need to teach our community to recognize and react to these signs and help another child like Gabriel. These kids are our next generation and we should not let them fall because of our lack of knowledge and instead save them by helping them get the help and attention they need.  
How to report beyond signs of child abuse or physical abuse are never taught or shared between families or students in school. A teen and sometimes even an adult is not advised on how to take measures when they see these different signs. Child and physical abuse is not something that can just be moved on from, rather it is something that needs immediate attention. Teachers have extensive training on mandated reporting before beginning the new school year. However, what is the next step if action is not taken from those you report to? In the documentary of Gabriel Fernandez released on Netflix, Gabriel’s teacher shared in a testimony that she noticed he would walk into schools with black eyes, swollen lips, scabs and burn marks. She immediately called an authority however nothing was done to check in with Gabriel. After her call, she realized nothing had been done because she noticed Gabriel would still come in with distinct marks and some days some worse than others. Eventually, the signs increased, the bruises, swollen lips, shaved heads were all very noticeable and it ultimately led to him not showing up to school. The teacher did, however, talk with Gabriel and he admitted he was being beaten at home by his mother. His teacher then called DCFS but nothing changed. We wonder how nothing was changed or done when this information was given. There needs to be more done than just waiting on someone else to take actions and soon finding out nothing was ever done. Information beyond reporting signs of physical abuse needs to be instructed and shared if in any case, the same thing occurs where action is not taken. If they can’t save a life, we need to be advised and informed on how to help more instead of waiting for someone else to do the job. Many aren’t advised on what will happen if a report is made, and how it could help. The book Child abuse reporting and you states.. “Anyone who reports known or suspected child abuse is protected by the law from civil or criminal liability unless it can be proven the report was false and the person who made the report knew it was false.” Many can worry about what would happen if they were to report such crimes however it is shown that nothing will happen to you and you are also able to remain anonymous if wanted.
Another way to be informed of signs of physical abuse is knowing the difference between being abused and being disciplined. To be disciplined is one thing however to be abused is another. In the years past, parents “discipline” their children with spanking or with a one to one talk. It is common for children to be disciplined this way as in older times this was the way their own parents were taught. When being “disciplined” a child should not have noticeable marks, bruises, or any apparent signs of injury aside from normal child play like falling off a bike or accidentally hitting yourself on an object. An article by the LA county shares “If the discipline is excessive or forceful enough to leave injuries, physical abuse has occurred.” In the Gabriel Fernandez case, when officers looked into Gabriel’s injuries, the mother Pearl Fernandez said the injuries were from falling off a bike or the kids at school. It is clear that head bruises or swollen eyes can not be from falling off a bicycle or even falling in the shower. It is the small things that need the most attention. If officers or adults would have responded to the sign of injuries he had, he could still have possibly been here today. There are many clear factors to allow for abuse to be seen through others. We need to step up and make a change, if you see something, say something. If we give those the attention they need, we can save our future generations and avoid losing another life. 
In order to save a young life, we must be able to know how to take precautions and how to advise someone if signs of child abuse are shown. We must enable those with proper authority to take charge and actions when these signs are reported. Those mandated with power must fill their leadership role and take actions for those who are hurt day by day like how Gabrial Fernandez was being hurt. Teens, adults, and those in high power need to be more informed of the signs of physical abuse and how to take action to prevent further child endangerment.


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