We Need our Voices Back


Jadyn Kass, Staff Writer, Staff Writer

Child abuse is not a joke. And not enough is being done to protect children. Too many reported cases of child abuse come after it’s too late.

Abused children show signs of abuse long before the police are notified. And when the police question the children, they brush it off as if nothing ever happened. Many kids are too afraid to speak up because they are too intimidated by the adults who potentially can help them.

Until they see it on the news, many people don’t believe child abuse could be happening in their own town. Their own school. And by anyone. Child abuse is brushed aside, especially when the parent is a police officer, veteran or even school teacher. It is stereotypical to assume that child abuse happens to kids whose parents are prisoners or gang members. In reality child abuse happens more often when the parent has a position of authority.

Typically, children ages 6-17 are main victims. Younger children, specifically the ages 8 and under, are sometimes not believed because they have the tendencies to make up stories. But why would a child young like that make something like this up? It’s not for attention. People tend to believe children 10 and up more because they are older. But at these ages the child might be trying to get attention from people so they make up stories. 

Look for signs. If a child has severe bruising on their body or severe cuts that is clearly a sign that something is not okay, especially when the marks are recurring and do not go away. Children need help speaking up. And people need to listen when they tell them. 

Take Thomas Valva for example. His father was a police officer and his teachers had pages and pages of complaints, from soiled clothing to lack of food to losing weight.  But CPS did not protect him.  This poor boy was forced to sleep in a garage in the middle of winter with no blankets and no heat. The child died at the age of eight from hypothermia in January 2020 in Center Moriches. 

Another victim, Gabriel Fernandez died in Los Angeles, CA at the age of nine.  A documentary on Netflix describes the abuse he suffered.  He died by being beaten to death from his mother’s fiance who worked as a security guard. He was locked in a cupboard for days and nights with his feet handcuffed together, socks in his mouth used as a gag, a blindfold over his face and no food or water. The child was forced to eat cat litter as his meals and was all skin and bones. He was beaten with bats, the fists of his mother’s fiance and and shot with a pellet gun. 

The child died because he spoke up to his mother asking her why she was with the man she was with because he would always beat him. The mother told her fiance and the fiance broke multiple ribs on either side of the boy. He died on May 24, 2013. And the only thing the police did when he asked for help on multiple occasions was sit him in the back of their police car and tell him if he kept on calling them and lying they were going to take him to jail. Gabriel’s mother told the police every time they came that he was lying and got into a fight at school. The police chose to believe the mother who caused him all this pain over the boy with the marks.

Both of these boys had voices. But no one listened. No one read their signs and every one brushed them aside because of not only their parents but their ages. The police are supposed to be keeping people safe and child protective services are supposed to be there to listen and save these children. 

 Child abuse leads to death. Deaths that could so easily have been prevented if only they listened. 

Help give all of the other victims of child abuse who died a voice. Speak up if you notice something or if you need help. 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) Text, Call or Chat. The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is open 24/7. All calls are confidential.