Feral children are individuals who have lived isolated from human contact at a very young age, and has lived without human care, love, or social behavior. Danielle Crockett was a feral child rescued from from her abusive Florida home on July 13, 2005 by Plant City police officers responding to a child abuse report. Danielle was 7 when she was found and weighed a shocking 46 pounds. The first report of a young girl living in the rundown rental home was from a neighbor seeing the thin face of Danielle appear briefly in her bedroom window. At the time of her rescue she was under the care of her mother Michelle Crockett and Michelle’s two grown up sons. Feral children, including Danielle Crockett, are not treated with love or affection at a very young age, depriving them of essential development years. The circumstances of Danielle Crocket’s upbringing were highly unusual, isolated, abusive, and tragic. Danielle was confined to her small bedroom, which was not in any way suitable for a child. The walls and floor of the room were smeared with her feces, including animal feces as well. Danielle was not clothed, was surrounded by used diapers, and was left alone in her room day and night. She was malnourished, incapable of speech, and unable to walk. Although Danielle was born a perfectly healthy baby, she developed what was classified as environmental autism from no one ever caring for her beyond the extremely basic needs to maintain survival. It was determined that Danielle was rarely spoken to or interacted with, and was left alone in her room with nothing to occupy her. After her rescue and rehabilitation in a hospital, Danielle was still incapable of speech and basic skills but was put through foster care. After two years of moving from homes Bernie and Diane Lierow adopted Danielle in 2007. Today, now known as Dani, she is living with her new loving parents and older brother as she learns the basic skills that she was never taught as a child. Danielle is enrolled in speech, physical, and occupational therapy, as well as horse back riding to compensate for her lost years. She now knows a vocabulary of some basic words, responds to her name, can chew her own food, swim, show affection, and has progressed in ways no one dreamed possible when she was first found.
Danielle’s initial upbringing was unnaturally cruel, unfair, and abusive, however her family today has helped her grow and is essential to her development and happiness. Unfortunately Danielle Crockett is not the only reported feral child case, and there are many reported and unknown circumstances as well. Genie the wild child is an example of a child isolated and abused at a young age. Similar to Danielle, Genie was confined to a room and neglected as a young girl, however unlike Danielle, Genie was strapped down to a potty chair for 10 years. Both girls were malnourished, neglected, and not shown any kindness for an extensive period of time. In contrast to the undetermined theory of physical abuse towards Danielle, Genie was beaten by her father whenever she made noise or uttered the few words she knew such as “no” “stop it” and “no more”. The difference between the cases of the two girls is somewhat apparent in the intent of their caregivers. Danielle’s mother Michelle insisted that she did “the very best she could” and felt a sense of loss when her daughter was taken from her. However, Genie’s father decided that his daughter was “retarded” and that she needed to be held captive, beaten, yelled at, and not shown affection. Similarly feral children, including Genie and Danielle, receive the punishment of neglect that they do not deserve and grow up deprived of basic social skills. Society can go about the difficult task of socializing the victims of abnormal socialization in isolated children in many ways. First and foremost, it is important to show the recovering children love, patience, and kindness in a healthy, happy, and calming environment to help them move on from the traumas they may have experienced as a feral child. It is common for isolated children to lack social, speech, and physical skills, therefore there being an importance on teaching them these basic skills as they grow and develop. Feral children are commonly as advanced as young children when found and benefit from treatments such as speech therapy. The process of recovering isolated children are lengthy and at times extremely difficult, but it is important to show them love and kindness in order for them to have a chance at being comfortable and happy. Danielle Crockett lived an unfair and cruel childhood. She did not deserve the neglect she received, and her mother did a terrible job of looking after her. Danielle was a perfectly healthy baby who could’ve turned out to be a fully functioning teenager today if it wasn’t for the abusive circumstance of her
upbringing. However, the chances of Danielle being adopted by the loving parents that she now has were highly unlikely, and thanks to them she has progressed amazingly and has been very lucky to be found by them. Without proper socialization in the early years of life children grow up to be unable to trust, speak, and communicate with the world. It has been proven that in the first 5 years of life 85% of the brain is developed, making it the most crucial developmental period for children. Danielle, being 7 when she was found, missed out on her 5 crucial years of development and will never be as capable and developed as she could’ve been if she had experienced normal socialization at any earlier time in her life. The story of Danielle is an unfortunate and heart breaking case of a negligent parent who should’ve never had the opportunity to be near a beautiful and healthy baby.