“The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez”
This documentary series recorded the real child abuse case happened in Palmdale, California. Gabriel Fernandez who was an eight years old boy in 2013 left this world suffering from merciless torture from his parents. The film was divided into six episodes and told the audience the full story behind the trail. While the film reached Top 10 in various countries in the world, it also brought the topic of child abuse back into public’s view. What are some relevant institutions that citizens could report possible child abuse cases to? Or what even is the definition of child abuse?
Child abuse and neglect, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, means that children under the age of 18 may be exposed to abuse and neglect by a parent, caregiver, or another person in a custodial role. There are four types of child abuse: Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Emotional Abuse and Neglect. Corporal punishment is counted as child abuse in some of the countries. Signs of abuse often varies; some example can include unexplained injuries, sexual behaviour that should not occur at the child’s age and poor growth or unusual weight gain. Though some of the symptoms can be hard to detect and could have numerous reasons behind them, more people should be aware of the topic of child abuse.
There’s at least one child suffering child abuse from every seven kid in the last year, considering that there might be cases that are not counted or reported to the Child Protective Services (CPS). Around 1770 children died due to child abuse and neglect in 2018 in the United States. Looking at Singapore, the Child Protective Service department in the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) reported that there were in total of 1163 cases recorded last year. This number reached the highest record in the past decade in Singapore, according to the straits times.
With the situation indicated above, there are legislations in both American and Singapore to prevent child abuse happening within the society, such as The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (US) and Children and Young Persons Act (Singapore). Child protection system are also built in those countries. Singapore has a premed of child protection concerns that are divided into low, moderate and high. The level of child protection concerns will lead into different authorities and community services involved in the cases to ensure the best protection towards child under 18 if possible.
But, what can we do as a citizen to reduce the cases as much as possible?
Child Abuse and neglect are preventable. If you see any suspected child abuse in the surrounding area, you should contact the appropriate institutions and authorities in the state or in where the child lives in. If you are unable to find that number, you can call the Child help National Child Abuse Hotline, 1.800.422.4453. If the suspected case is in Singapore and the child’s life is in danger, you can call the police at 999 directly. The Child Protective Service Helpline is 1800-7770000, operating Monday to Sunday from 7 AM to 12 midnight.