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Savage Girls and Wild Boys

Savage Girls and Wild Boys

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Published by Alan Challoner
In his book, Newton challenges notions of civilisation.

Why do tales of children being raised by wild animals capture the imagination of the public? According to Newton, the fascination lies in the notion that human beings can be stripped back to their base level. There are many documented stories and legends of children growing up in the wild.

Much doubt has been cast on the 400 or so supposedly true accounts of such feral children. However, in Newton's view, while children may not be "raised" by animals they can develop a special relationship with them.

According to Newton, the child’s successful reintroduction to society demonstrates how, "depending on what has happened to them, when the children have had several years in a domestic society and then have a period of isolation, recovery is very possible."
In his book, Newton challenges notions of civilisation.

Why do tales of children being raised by wild animals capture the imagination of the public? According to Newton, the fascination lies in the notion that human beings can be stripped back to their base level. There are many documented stories and legends of children growing up in the wild.

Much doubt has been cast on the 400 or so supposedly true accounts of such feral children. However, in Newton's view, while children may not be "raised" by animals they can develop a special relationship with them.

According to Newton, the child’s successful reintroduction to society demonstrates how, "depending on what has happened to them, when the children have had several years in a domestic society and then have a period of isolation, recovery is very possible."

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Published by: Alan Challoner on Sep 08, 2009
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06/28/2014

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BOOK REVIEW

Savage Girls and Wild Boys: A History of Feral Children By Michael Newton London, Faber & Faber 2002 ISBN 0571201393

A reading of this book shows that children who were severely deprived of normal human contact during their early years, exhibit some of the aspects of behaviour also seen in some learning disabled children and vice versa. This may reflect the fact that they are (or have been) treated differently. Despite a child’s deficiencies there are basic needs (other than nutriments) that are essential to (emotional) survival. Some of the major ones are: love, in its sense of being accepted and granted security of affection; a good environment of particular relevance to the subject; and an understanding and acceptance of all positive traits and abilities, however trivial some might be. It has been a characteristic of the past that there has been a concentration on behaviour that is considered not to be the norm. Attempts to ‘normalise’ by medication reflect more on the prescriber’s fears than on the needs of the subject. Everyone requires certain things in their life that they can hang on to, regardless of intellect and ability. For those unable to dictate their own requirements, these things need to be identified and established.

Alan Challoner 8 September 2009

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