Cristian Fernandez is a thirteen year old boy from Florida who is currently awaiting trial for the murder of his two year old half-brother and the sexual abuse of his five year old half-brother. He is being tried as an adult. If he is convicted of the murder charge, he is facing a life sentence in prison. His crimes are appalling, to some unspeakable. He stole the life of a tiny baby boy and destroyed the innocence of another, leaving him a lifetime to cope with living after sexual abuse.
This was the first time I heard about Cristian. I haven’t been able to get him out of my head since. All I can picture is a naked, dirty two year old boy walking the streets alone at 4am in the morning while his grandmother was getting off her face in a nearby hotel and his fourteen year old mother was nowhere to be found. It actually hurts my heart to think about it. He should have been tucked up in bed, warm and safe with a full belly and a contented look on his face.
He was born to a twelve year old mother and a 25 year old father who “sexually assaulted” her. (I’m putting “sexually assaulted” her in inverted commas here because I’m a little confused by the terminology. Maybe the law in the States is different but here in Ireland if someone forces another person to engage in non-consensual sex against their will, it’s rape not sexual assault.)
Cristian’s thirteen years have been full of neglect, violence, sexual abuse and extreme poverty. He didn’t stand a chance. His brothers didn’t stand a chance. His mother didn’t stand a chance.
My thoughts also turn to the twelve year old son of Declan O’Reilly, who watched his father being shot at least three times when they were out walking on a busy city road one evening last week. O’Reilly lived a life that brought him to that fate, that moment in time, but his son is an innocent child. How does he get over that – every young boy’s worst nightmare? As he gets older, how does he manage learning about the life his father lived versus how he died? What way will his life go? I hope he has strong, loving people surrounding him and protecting him right now.
The eleven year old girl and her three year old half brother who watched gangland criminal Gerard Eglinton shot to death are also scarred for life. They didn’t deserve that. My heart breaks for them, for all of them.
Can we blame someone? Who do we look to to protect these innocent children?
Their parents? But what were their own lives and circumstances like?
The Government? But where does the intervention start and how far does it go?
Really, I just want to scoop them all up in my arms and tell them it’s going to be okay. I would be lying and they’re unlikely to believe me but what else can you say? Sorry life has been so terribly cruel to you. Sorry that you were born into this life and your world has fought against you getting the life, love, health, safety and education that you deserve. Sorry I can’t wave my magic wand and fix it for you.
It is a random lottery of biology that decides what kind of life our babies are born in to. I’d like to say that it’s our parents that are responsible for keeping us safe and guiding us through life until we can fend for ourselves but it’s not a simple as that.
If only it were. It’s just so profoundly sad.