Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Traumatized Children Must Be Treated

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Traumatized Children Must Be Treated

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

It looked like the system was on track to fail Cristian Fernandez again.

Both Cristian and his mother, Biannela Susana, were abused as children. Cristian's father impregnated her when she was only 12. Susana wound up with a man who beat Cristian constantly, even leaving him with a swollen eye.

In a letter to the Times-Union three years ago, Susana claimed that she had sought therapy for Cristian and his siblings from the Department of Children and Families after his stepfather's suicide - only to be put on a waiting list.

It was amid that toxic mix of violence and dysfunction that Cristian, now 15, fatally beat his 2-year-old half-brother, David Galarriago, to death.

But if it wasn't for the diligence of Cristian's Guardian ad Litem, Mary Coxe, the therapy he needs to help him cope with the trauma of his early years - trauma that undoubtedly played a role in him slaying his brother - would have eluded him again.


Not only would that not be good for him, but it could be bad for society once he is released in four years.

According to the Times-Union, while Cristian was receiving psychosexual treatment for sexual dysfunction or an emotional block within a relationship, what he wasn't receiving was trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy.

That's the kind of therapy that seeks to help children who have been abused from lashing out violently or acting out emotionally.

Children like Cristian.

Receiving that kind of treatment is important, said Jack Levine, a longtime Florida child advocate.

"Good therapy costs money, but the idea that we don't have money to do it, I think that is an illusion," Levine, who now heads 4 Generations Institute, an organization that seeks to bridge needs among generations, told me. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.