Netflix offers documentary series about heartbreak of child abuse

Julia Williams, News Editor

“The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez” is a documentary series that examines and dives deep into the heartbreak of child abuse and where it can lead.

Who is Gabriel Fernandez?  He was an eight-year-old boy who died after being tortured and abused by his mother and her boyfriend. He died in May 2013, but the show did not come to Netflix until February 2020.

Through interviews with family members, psychologists, and testimonies from the courtroom, viewers learn the suffering that Gabriel went through for months and how it eventually led to his death.

Gabriel was born to his mother Pearl Fernandez, and she gave him up at birth to some relatives who were more than willing to take care of him. He was born a seemingly normal and sweet child who was happy and healthy while living with his relatives.

Things took a sharp turn when he began living with his mother again. Reportedly, her only reason for wanting her son back was to gain welfare benefits. Her family expressed many concerns about her ability and willingness to take good care of the boy, but ultimately they could not stop her from taking him into custody.

His teacher at school was one of the first to sense that things were not right and home, and while she did report it to authorities, things only seemed to get worse for Gabriel. The teacher, Jennifer Garcia, appears many times throughout the series and was one of the only witnesses who tried to do something for Gabriel.

Overall, this series is thorough in its examination of what exactly led to Gabriel’s death and how he slipped through the cracks of a system in place to protect children like Gabriel.

The series shows Gabriel’s life from start to finish, and makes the audience feel what it was like to be Gabriel, through the good, the bad, and the terrible things that happened to him.

The series is emotional and can be scary at points, but it is all included to truly show what happened to the eight-year-old boy.