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Feral Children Still Exist in the 21st century
Submitted by: Nancy L. Young-Houser
History has accepted the words ostrich boy, monkey boys, gazelle boys, wild children, and wolf girls as part of its folklore. Over 100 stories are known of these children. Traditionally speaking, children raised by animals have little if any human contact. When found, the children are not able to speak human language or are aware of human social behavior. The only solution was to take them to asylums in the early days.
The proper term today for a child of the wild is a "feral child." Each child has an individual background and reason for being raised by animals. Many of these children have been victims of abuse, forced to live in animal cages with animals or in a locked-basement type environment. Others begin their lives in the wild for odd reasons, such as their parents were killed, leaving the infant to survive; that child would be raised by animals or simply fend for themselves in the wild if they become lost.
The earliest feral child story with records dates back to 1724, found in Hannover, Germany. The boy was named Peter, a black-haired naked boy who was found running up and down the fields. When he was trapped and brought into town, the threatened the people like a wild animal, eating birds and vegetables raw.
Found to be mentally handicapped, he was given as a pet to King George I of England, where he would remain throughout his life. Other than a few simple tasks and a love of music, Peter would die in 1785 without responding to the world around him. Peter the Wild Boy had a charming smile, seen in portraits completed while he as in England, that would eventually give historians the clue that he had Pitt-Hopkins syndrome.
From the 14th to 19 centuries, there are 14 documented cases of feral children, while in the 20th century there were 16 cases, one that involved the famous Genie case. She had been confined to her room by her abusive father for 12 years, tied to a potty chair for 13 years. She was a victim of one of the most severe cases of social isolation ever documented on a human being.
The difference between the immense street children problem we have today and the feral children are socialization levels. Yet both groups live on their own without supervision and survive on their base instincts, choosing a social group that accepts them.
Since 2000, nine cases of feral children have been found throughout the world, with the majority of them through abusive parents who have locked their children up in severe physical surroundings, while denying them any form of social contact or proper care.
Of the nine, two documented cases have been found in the United States. In 2009, a four and five year old were found in Metairie, Louisiana, both in diapers with neither able to speak or communicate. Both children were riddled with insect bites, living in a filthy apartment. Neither child was toilet-trained. The floor was covered with black mold and soaked in water, filled with flies and cockroaches. The refrigerator was completely empty and the home had exposed electrical wires. The parents were not only charged with juvenile cruelty but child desertion.
Another 2005 feral case is Danielle Crockett in Florida, a seven-year-old child locked in her bedroom since birth, without any type of human interaction. She was found by the police lying in a roach-infested room covered with insect bites, roach bites, flea bites, and mosquito bites - while wearing an overly soiled diaper. Animal feces had lined the walls, seen in a special by Oprah Winfrey. Danielle could only communicate through grunts, and two years later at nine, she was learning how to communicate and use the bathroom.
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Nancy L. Young-Houser is a professional writer and illustrator, in addition to providing a home for dogs on all levels of need with her best friend, Sandra Marquiss. Her writings include controversial subjects as part of the soapbox she has carried around since childhood, never leaving home without it. Part of this soapbox is her website WayCoolDogs.com filled with lots of four-legged information!