A boy’s abuse gone unnoticed by L.A. County social workers
The story below is harrowing, but it needs to be told in the wake of little Gabriel Fernandez’s tragic passing May 24.
When paramedics arrived at his Palmdale home last week, 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez’s skull was cracked, three ribs were broken and his skin was bruised and burned. He had BB pellets embedded in his lung and groin. Two teeth were knocked out of his mouth.
His mother and her boyfriend are currently in custody under charges of murder and torture. But that does little to put to rest the shocking realization that Gabriel’s mother had been investigated six times over the last decade for alleged abuse.
Teachers noticed he was battered and bruised. He had already written a suicide note, which was discovered by his therapist. A social worker assigned to the case sat on their hands for 20 days before contacting the family. Gabriel’s mother had already been accused of not feeding one child, beating another and had a well-established history of drug abuse and mental health problems.
As for L.A. County’s Department of Children and Family Services:
The department has been criticized for lenient treatment of workers who fail to properly protect children in cases such as Gabriel’s. One recent internal agency review found no workers had been fired in 15 instances where children died, even when their errors were deemed “egregious.”
“I feel like they all should be fired,” said Elizabeth Carranza, Gabriel’s aunt. “They didn’t listen to my nephew. They were completely deaf and blind.”
Beyond Gabriel’s story, there’s still a backlog of claims of child abuse waiting to be investigated in L.A. County.
Read more on the tragedy here., or head over to the Facebook group set up in his memory for updates from his friends, family and mourners.
Photo: The Fernandez family