From “Why Did No One Save Gabriel?” published in The Atlantic, October 2nd, 2018.
“Is it normal for your mom to hit you with the part of the belt that has that metal thing on the end?”
“You mean the buckle?” Garcia (his first-grade teacher) asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “Is it normal for you to bleed?”
“Near the end of January, Garcia was reading to a group of students when the door opened. It was Gabriel. This time, the students didn’t laugh. They didn’t understand what they saw. Gabriel’s eyes were swollen, and squinty like a cat’s. Little round bruises dotted his face. Garcia told him to sit down. When she was finally alone with him at recess, she asked what had happened.
“I fell,” he said.
“I don’t believe you, Gabriel,” she said, noting that this was the first time he’d lied to her. She saw the anger swell inside him.
“It’s because my mom shot me in the face with a BB gun!”
“Okay.” She paused, not knowing what to say. “Why did you lie and tell me you fell?”
“When I tell you, and that lady comes, then I get hurt worse.”
Gabriel Fernandez was tortured to death by his mother and her boyfriend.
Nearly five children die every day due to abuse and neglect in the U.S. The system failed to protect a little boy, who despite the cruelty inflicted upon him, still loved his mother. Gabriel’s case is a heartbreaking reminder that downstream solutions are not enough to keep kids safe.
But we cannot let him become another statistic. We must prevent abuse before it happens. Having Kids is the only organization working to stop child abuse through Fair Start orders, which prevent child abusers from having additional children while they are on probation and undergoing rehabilitative programs.
You can prevent this harm inflicted on so many kids with your gift on this Giving Tuesday.