It has happened yet again. Another local child has been horrifically beaten and abused to death by his mother and her boyfriend. And like so many times before, this abuse was known and his suffering and murder were completely preventable.
In 2013, 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale was beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend after years of abuse reported multiple times to many different agencies. Sadly, around the same time Gabriel’s mother and her boyfriend were in court being tried and punished for his horrific death, 10-year-old Anthony Alvos was experiencing the same hell on earth in his Lancaster home.
Like Gabriel, Anthony showed all the signs of abuse and neglect to the adults in his life. According to the Antelope Valley Press, a dozen reports were made to the Department of Children and Family Services between 2013 and 2016. And like Gabriel’s story, Anthony’s is a story of missed detection and inaction by the governmental bureaucracy supposedly put in place to protect him.
Similarly, those multiple calls and reports to child protection services did nothing to save Anthony from the monsters who would eventually kill him, because those agencies do not share information.
Early in 2018, Assemblyman Tom Lackey introduced Assembly Bill 1911 — also known as Gabriel’s Law — which would have made it easier for law enforcement officials to track child abuse and neglect like Gabriel’s and Anthony’s. AB 1911 would’ve required each county in California to establish a private online database for cross-reporting substantiated allegations of abuse and neglect. In other words, AB 1911 would’ve enabled agencies to share information they currently do not do.
The L.A. Times reported that Anthony’s mother and her boyfriend were the subject of at least 16 calls to various child protective services since 2013. The calls were from school administrators, teachers, family members and others who observed signs of abuse. Astonishingly, the calls went unheeded and Anthony remained in the home — along with seven other young children — mainly because these agencies do not cross-post and share abuse and neglect reports. We can now only imagine a different outcome if the agencies had been able to access a shared database.
“Gabriel’s Law would’ve created a database that linked departments together, making it simpler for investigators to monitor these reports,” says Assemblyman Lackey. At-risk children like Anthony would’ve been protected by permitting local law enforcement agencies to share information among each other, enabling them to take swift action.
It seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?
Why shouldn’t agencies working to protect our children be able talk to each other and share valuable life-saving information?
Unfortunately, agencies do not and will not talk to each other since the Democrats in Sacramento made sure to kill AB 1911 in committee.
In a shameful show of partisan politics over real children’s lives, the Democrats voted to kill Gabriel’s Law simply because it was put forth by a Republican assemblyman.
Why don’t Democrats in Sacramento care about our children in California? How many more Gabriels and Anthonys have to suffer and die before Democrats stop political grandstanding for illegal immigrant children at the border and stand up for the children right in our own backyards? When will enough be enough?
Democrats should do their job to serve and to protect their actual Californian constituents — like Assemblyman Lackey was aiming to do — instead of spending endless amounts of time virtue signaling about foreign kids at the border who have already been helped by President Trump.
According to Child Welfare Services Reports for California, U.C. Berkeley Center for Social Services Research, there are 10.1 to 15.6 children per 1,000 being neglected and abused each and every day in Los Angeles and Kern counties, and yet, Democrats choose not to help our at-risk children by making abuse detection easier among agencies.
Rather, Democrats choose to make sure a Republican does not look good politically before an election cycle, proving Democrats don’t really care about our children; they care about partisan political expediency.
Gwendolyn Sims is a social media consultant and resident of the Santa Clarita Valley for over 20 years. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among several local Republicans.