Gabriel Fernandez was an eight year old boy who was experiencing domestic violence. His story touches upon the animalistic crimes of his parents and how the system failed to save him. Gabriel’s case involved so many people, with social workers, police officers, teachers, and family members that knew something was wrong and saw all the obvious signs of abuse, but was still unable to help the young boy.

Taking place in 2013 in the county of Los Angeles, Palmdale, the story unfolds with a 911 call from Gabriel\’s mother, Pearl, asking calmly for help about her son who is unconscious and not breathing. When the first responders arrived, they took Gabriel to the hospital as fast as they could but he ended up passing away the next day. When Gabriel’s body was closely examined, they found many horrific things. A depressed skull fracture, cigarette burns all over his body and skull, rib fracture, abrasions on his foot, cuts and bruises, two bullets inside his body, bb gun wounds, not a single part of Gabriel’s body had something that was either healing, slightly healed, or fresh. After seeing all of these physical features on Gabriel, not a single person would not believe that he was being abused. They examined his body even further and found out that Gabriel had been malnourished, he had been so stressed out, as an eight year old, that glands inside his body were not growing normally, they found nothing in his stomach besides some pellets of cat food. His autopsy took about two days because there were so many injuries that just kept popping up. With all of this, Pearl and her current boyfriend were taken into custody for child abuse. However, even before Gabriel died, family members of Pearl have called child services on Gabriel because they saw the manner that he was being treated. He was beaten up to the point that Gabriel looked like he had a skin condition when he was actually being treated like an animal. His teacher noticed signs of abuse too and also called child services for him.
The politics involved applies to shady government agencies, homing fostered children, and incompetent law enforcement. There have been multiple occurrences when sheriffs were called on Pearl and her boyfriend about domestic violence. Whenever they came to their house, they never asked to see Gabriel and took Pearls word that everything was good. The agencies that overtook Gabriel’s case when child protective services were called on him, was run by the government but under a firm that was not a non-profit agency. The social workers did not completely take Gabriel’s examination and situation seriously, and some of them would say that they could not do more for Gabriel since they were not getting paid on the clock anymore.

Gabriel’s murder from over a long time period of abuse was a crime of horrendous acts. The things done to Gabriel really makes one question whether Pearl really was his mother. He always asked for his mother’s love by writing notes to her of what he loved about her, but still even with such horrible acts done to an eight year old, not an ounce of guilt, concern, or love was given to Gabriel. It led to the point where he wrote a suicide note saying he just wanted to be a good boy and would kill himself. Even the system, which is supposed to help children who are not being treated properly in their homes, played out in a way to fail Gabriel, puts a lot of worry of whether or not they are even capable of doing their jobs correctly.

In the end, Pearl was punished with a life-long sentence in prison and her boyfriend, the death penalty. The four social workers who worked on Gabriel\’s case was also accused of belittling “the significance of the physical, mental, and emotional injuries that Gabriel suffered,” and were charged with a felony count of child abuse and for falsifying public records. One could say justice was served, but a kid had to die in order for the circumstances to be taken seriously. Even after the exposure of how the system worked, still more cases about domestic violence were called in for child protection services, and some of these children underwent the same treatment as Gabriel, but no help was given and they ended up passing away. Knowing what the system could have done to help other children not end up in the same way as Gabriel, it seems nothing has been changed to protect these innocent children.

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Fianca Nicole Banca

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