Socialization and Feral Children

Socialization is an integral part of our lives.

We are each a part of many groups, whether it be school, sports, clubs, or social circles, and we do not even step back to truly realize how important these connections are. Community is essential for the psychological development of people; the isolation and lack of human language lead to issues that are largely irreversible. This point is illustrated very effectively by feral children, who are kids that have been deprived of human contact in such a severe case that they have problems communicating and fitting into modern society. Examples of these children include Victor of Aveyron, Genie, and Danielle Crockett. One very famous case concerning feral children came to light in 1798 with a boy nicknamed “Victor of Aveyron.” The kid, who was about nine years old, was given this title after coming out of the woods in a southern French town called Aveyron.

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He ignored or even refused human contact and would break out in violent outbursts. After several years of working with the boy, he would eventually bathe, wear clothes, and even express empathy when he saw nonverbal signs of sadness in others. Despite these advancements, Victor died at age forty without ever being able to say a complete sentence. Because he spent almost a decade in the woods, he learned to live like an animal because that is all that he was exposed to. Although he was able to adapt to some civil parts of life, he could not overcome the biggest task: learning language. Some feral children do not live in the wilderness though.

One notorious case of this type is Genie. This girl lived in Los Angeles, California, and was isolated into one room of the house by her sadistic father because he believed she was mentally retarded. He often strapped her to a toilet seat or crib. Finally, she was discovered and freed from the house when she was thirteen years old. During the time that Genie was studied, her mental and psychological development made huge advances.

Sadly, just like Victor, she failed to acquire language. Genie is currently fifty-eight years old and has needed assisted living ever since she was found. Even if you disregard the fact that she cannot speak a language, she simply does not have enough knowledge or understanding of our society to live alone. Early life stimulation is necessary in order to acquire a language and to be able to function independently. Feral children cases actually hit very close to home.

One case was in Plant City, Florida, to be exact. When police came across Danielle Crockett at age seven, she was living in her own feces and weighed only forty-six pounds. The girl could not chew or swallow solid food, so she had to be hooked up to an IV machine. She would never make eye contact, did not react to pain, never cried, and could not talk, but she did not have any medical conditions that would encourage these behaviors. She acted like an infant, entertaining herself by batting at her toes and sucking her fist.

Her caseworker determined that she had never gone to school or seen a doctor. Danielle is unable to fully recover from this abuse due to the fact that 85% of the brain develops in the first five years of life, mostly through human interaction. If Danielle had been able to attend school, then she would be in a much better condition and could live a normal life, but sadly her parents took that from her. In conclusion, community is a huge and important part of our lives. Being around other people stimulates our brains and allows us to grow and learn. Although every case of a feral child is extremely unfortunate, they have taught us a lot about the human mind and just how important socialization is for our psychological development.