09 March 2009

Feral / Wild Children "Raised by Dogs"

We've all heard stories about children orphaned or abandoned by their parents and growing up wild. Some stories say these children became "feral" and were raised by or lived amongst wild animals. Some stories are true and some are hoaxes.

Here are three stories. At the end is a link to a very long list of cases of feral/wild children which includes photos, whether it was true or a hoax, and where these people are now in their lives. It's very interesting.

Oxana Malaya aka "The Ukranian Dog Girl" was 3 years old when her alcoholic parents left her outside. For the next five years she lived in a shed with several dogs. She eventually walked as if on four legs, ate like a dog, and barked at people. Feral-child expert Lyn Fry says that Malaya, now 26, has the mental capacity of a 6-year-old child and cannot be rehabilitated.

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Madina aka "Mowgli" of Ufa, Russia lived with a family of dogs, neglected by her alcoholic mother. Social workers observed Madina naked and walking on all fours like a dog. She was gnawing bones off the ground for food and huddled for warmth with the dogs. She growls if a stranger gets too close. She only knows two words - "yes" and "no."
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Dani of Plant City, Florida was never allowed outside the home - not even to play, go to school or see a doctor. She was 7 years old when found by police who were responding to a concerned call of abuse/neglect. She was never potty trained and wore only a filthy diaper. She never learned to eat solid food, had no experience with language and walked like a crab. It has been determined that her mother was "mentally impaired." The foster parents who have since adopted Dani did many of the most important things needed to help severely neglected children. When Dani first began living with them, she wanted to be held and nurtured, like a baby wants and needs. And that's what she received. Dani's story made it to the Oprah Winfrey show.

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Here are some infamous hoaxes:

Misha Defonseca: She wrote a book about her life with wolves, then admitted she had lied.
Amala and Kamala: The "wolf girls of India" were most likely mentally impaired, not feral.
The Wild Boy of Burundi: He was probably autistic, and was not raised by monkeys.

The importance of love, trust, touch, and nurturing is great. Did you know that about one-third of babies raised in orphanages will die?

Feral children and others who are severaly neglected emotionally share autistic-like behaviors including rocking, language problems, poor social skills and difficulty understanding the thoughts and feelings of others (empathy). Like autistic children, neglected children often avoid physical contact even though they are starved for touch. Feral children need to start real slow and learn that a hug or simple touch of the hand is a good thing. Physical therapy can help with this.

Recommended reading: Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D and Maia Szalavitz co-authored The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog and Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love and Healing.

Here's the link to a long list of feral children: FERAL CHILDREN

6 comments:

  1. There's nothing sensational about child abuse. It happens all over the world This is a sad subject and IMO you did a very good job of presenting it.

    Here are some happier endings:

    In Argentina, a newborn baby, abandoned out in the cold by her 14 year old mother, was found safe in a dog pen with her puppies. http://www.wcsh6.com/news/watercooler/story.aspx?storyid=91868

    Kenyan baby girl 'rescued by dog'
    Angel in Kenyatta hospital
    An abandoned baby girl found among a dog's litter of puppies is now doing well in hospital in Kenya's capital. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4530423.stm

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  2. Thanks for adding some happy endings!!!!!

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  3. There were times when my mother asked, "Are you being raised by a pack of wolves?" Of course, I answered, "No". "Well, then", she said "stop licking your wounds."

    I never understood what she meant. I wasn't licking anything.

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  4. Great article, it's nice to hear about the happy endings. There is an interesting post about another famous feral child, Genie, found here:

    http://spanish-translation-blog.spanishtranslation.us/feral-children-and-the-critical-period-2009-03-13.htm

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  5. I have a cousin who was born that way, well not exactly wild but she was abandoned by her mother and her father died one year later her she was born, so we decided to adopt her for a while see what to do with her.

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  6. Children raised by dogs? How does that work?

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