A Study of Feral Children

Imagine… the wolves howl in the night. Far away, a child howls with them. Eyes flashing, she leaps over a broken branch and runs up to a she-wolf. Her eyes meet the wolf’s, and a smile softens her fierce countenance. Now…. A child, eyes dull and unseeing, stares blankly out the window. The wolves howl again. With a shriek of agony, she falls to the floor. She howls, hoping they can hear her. There is no getting around it. The fact is, feral children should be removed from their habitat, but only if their current physical or mental condition would be improved by human contact. And the brutal reality? It doesn’t happen.

Feral children are often repeatedly abused, either intentionally or unintentionally, once returning into humankind. Marina Chapman was a feral child who lived with monkeys for several years, and then was supposedly “rescued” by hunters who actually sold her. Luckily, she managed to get connections to people who helped her gain a normal lifestyle. She became a nanny and later married and had children. But what if she hadn’t gained those essential connections? Marina Chapman could have been doomed to live a fate as a slave. The truth was, not all feral children had her luck.

The Dog Boy of Chile, called Alex, was also captured to try and rehabilitate him. During a truly and gruesomely epic chase, he attempted to jump in the water. Although he was fully aware that he was human and even knew some Spanish, he missed his dog friends intensely and suffered from severe depression. Perhaps he would have been more satisfied living with the dogs that he grew to love as a family, after he was fed and cleaned up, of course.

A trait that was shown distinctly in the Dog Boy of Chile was that he was evidently happier in his feral condition. This is another opinion that should be considered before trying to “help” a feral child, possibly in the completely wrong way. The cruelty of wrenching any child from any family that cares well for them, even if they are animals, can lead to depression, as in the case of the Dog Boy of Chile. If the child is already miserable in the company of humans, why continue to force them to integrate into society?

Baby Hospital was another feral child. She was named by an Italian missionary, a name which already shows the lack of care given to her. Who would name a girl Baby Hospital? The very name indicates cruelty, as well as lack of care for her future with an identity influenced by the ridiculous label that would follow her forever. Baby Hospital, name or not, spent much of her time crying and never really adjusted to life in a normal society.

Her story is similar to Saturday Mthiyane, who was also raised by monkeys and was still “more monkey than man” at age 17, twelve years after being rescued. His only given improvements were that he now wore clothes and took baths. Baby Hospital’s plight clearly mirrors the many other children who were rudely separated from animals they loved as a family.

There is a clear difference between a child who has a great chance of recovery from the wild, or already lives a too horrific life, and someone who is safe and happy living a solitary life as a feral child. People often, in fact, argue that there are circumstances where kids have great recovery chances, or cases where human connection is necessary due to the child’s extreme state, saying that this is why all feral children should be “rescued”. However, as stated before, there is a great deal of difference between that and a feral child that is content and well off on their own.

Some feral children experience severe isolation at the hands of their parents, but never lived with wild animals. These children live horrific lives and there is no choice but to rescue them. Danielle Crockett is a well-known example of this. She was found at age seven naked, in diapers, and unable to communicate. The girl was emaciated, malnourished, covered with sores and pocks, and apparently was never really cared for. The house was shockingly dirty, with urine, feces, roaches, and maggots everywhere. Despite that, her mother had the nerve to state,

“I’m doing the best I can.”

To which Detective Mark Holste replied, “The best you can sucks.” Today, Danielle is living contently with a loving foster family. Others, such as the wild girl of Champagne, also known as Marie Angelique Memmie le Blanc, were helped out by a variety of rich patrons and went on to live a relatively good life, even after living in the wild for many years (in Memmie’s case, ten). These children obviously had a relatively good chance of recovery, and rescuing them actually benefited them. But in cases such as the Dog Boy of Chile, or Baby Hospital, they evidently were not going to conform to society, so why not leave them be? But of course not. These people instead ripped away the only “family” they ever had. They were forced to become, essentially, more human, the attempts continuing even more tenaciously when they only succeeded in making the child more depressed.

Allowing a feral child to be abused, neglected, and depressed. Making them unable to decide their own destiny. These are cruelties that should be abhorred. Each feral child’s situation should be specifically evaluated before deciding their fate, not just ignored. The ultimate goal is to make them happy, not to make them “normal.” It’s alright to be unique sometimes. And sometimes, it’s alright to let them run, wild and free.

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