Abandoned toddler rescued and raised by feral dogs | 60 Minutes Australia


It’s an extraordinary story a little girl neglected rejected abandoned by her parents For comfort she snuggles up in the farmyard kennels with the dogs. That becomes her home They become her family for the next six years They protect her feed her maybe even love her and in return she begins to act like them It’s a remarkable case one that startled the world of science Especially when the doctors tried to teach her to be a normal child in fact the film you’re about to see Reignites the whole nature versus nurture debate and it could make you think twice about the way we bring up our kids At first this looks like some kind of strange hoax Ukrainian girl Oksana Malaya running jumping eating and barking just like a dog But this is no fraud Oksana’s behavior is the result of the most cruel childhood neglect neglect that began when she was three Mum had too many kids we didn’t have enough beds. So I crawled to the dog and started living with her Her parents were alcoholics and one night too drunk to care. They left their infant daughter outside in the cold Looking for warmth Oksana crawled into the farm kennel curling up with the mongrel dogs. Probably saved her life. I Would talk to them they would bark and I would repeat it. That was our way of communication The next six years from the age of three to eight the kennel was Oksana’s home and the dogs her family She had very little human contact and when finally discovered it was obvious, they’d been catastrophic consequences for Oksana’s development She was more like a little dog than a human child Your worship refused to show a tongue that she’s so water and she used to eat with the tongue and not her hands Oxana is now 22 and lives in a special care home Remarkably, she is able to speak able to communicate some feelings and that some progress Well, I remember her when she was initially brought here. She wasn’t like a human being she was like a small animal About half a year later. She had completely changed But certain situations still trigger deeply ingrained responses When I feel lonely, I find myself doing anything I call on all fours. This is how lonely I am Because I have nobody I spend my time with dogs I go for walks and do anything. I want to Nobody notices that I crawl on all fours When we’re talking about how does a child learn to live with dogs There’s obviously no deal and such but this give and take so the dogs are giving their love their attention their acceptance in a sense And what the child must give is that they’ve got to learn to adapt to the dog? Situation and if that means eating raw meat and scavenging a rubbish tip That’s what they’re going to have to learn to do because otherwise they’re not going to survive I’d like you to ask Oksana if this house is a particular place she knows using drawings child psychologist Lynn fry tries to determine what damage the years spent with dogs have done to Oksana’s intellectual and social development a drawing of a person has always been taken as quite a good judge of Basic ability if you like and her drawing was very similar to you would expect from a six-year-old Cognitive tests also show this 22 year old has the mental age of a 5 or 6 year old and Because Oksana missed out on so much human contact during her early years She also missed out on the chance to learn basic human skills Psychologists believe she’ll never be able to catch up. I Don’t think that she’s ever going to learn to read or do anything else there? That’s that’s going to be useful not now because I suspect she was reluctant to learn that in the first place Cases like Oksana Malaya provide extraordinary opportunities for scientists Opportunities that could never otherwise be replicated because of their cruelty in this day and age Experimenting on newborn babies is obviously unknown So the so-called feral children are like little bit an experiment. They give us an insight into the age-old debate Nature versus nurture are we a product of our genes or are we a product of our experiences? Back in the 1930s they weren’t the same ethical concerns about children and American scientists Winthrop Kellogg used his own 18 month-old son Donald in an experiment with the chimpanzee The idea was that by spending lots of time together every day the chimpanzee would take on human characteristics learnt from the child and That happened but unexpectedly the child also began barking and yelping like the chimp mimicking it by accident Kellogg had shown the vulnerability of early childhood how infants adapt to changes in their environment The question that’s always been asked by people who have studied these children in the past It’s about what does it really mean to be human? we look at the development of language what happens if you don’t get language up to a critical period and that critical period is I think now generally accepted that if you haven’t got language by about five, you’re not going to get language at all Officials have taken custody of a 13 year old girl And they say was kept in such isolation by her parents that she never even learned to talk Perhaps most inexplicable of all these feral children is Janie Wylie found not in some poverty-stricken third-world country but right in the heart of middle-class, Los Angeles The girl still wore diapers and was uttering infantile noises the social worker discovered the case two weeks ago But the authorities are hoping she still may have a normal learning capacity for the first 13 years of her life Jeannie endured almost total sensory and social deprivation Isolated in her bedroom by day. She was strapped onto a potty chair by night chained to her bed Detective Franklin Lee was one of the first people to say her when she was discovered in 1970 a child duck obviously had been Severely mistreated after she was still in diapers couldn’t walk. She had no verbal skills at all at that point It was Janie’s dominating and mentally unstable father Clark Wiley who cut his daughter off from the world Even from her own mother and brother Jeannie had never learned to speak so scientists. Wondered if she could ever be taught Looked after in foster care. She also became a living experiment for linguists like Susan Curtis she was Extremely interested in everything around her. She wanted to know the word for everything around her She wanted to engage people all around her she was not mentally deficient her lights were on and everyone who worked with her from teachers to Therapists to me knew that she was not retarded The conventional thinking was that language would be impossible but early on Jeannie confounded the scientists as she began to learn more more words hundreds of words much more rapidly than I ever imagined and swinging them together. I began to think maybe I will be wrong Maybe she will be the one that will prove that this hypothesis is incorrect But then things changed for the worse haunted by her traumatic upbringing Janie’s development stopped She learned tons of words. She has an enormous vocabulary But language is not words language is grammar languages sentences How do you make a sentence what can be a sentence? Ingenious brain the left part of her her brain They her cortex that that has those neural systems responsible for speech and language at 18 Janey Wiley’s life Took another strange and tragic twist She left the care of foster parents and moved back in with her mother back into the house where she’d endured 13 years of neglect People wouldn’t listen to me people who needed to intervene did not listen to me And so I spent lots and lots of time on the phone pleading with people to intervene and save this person who had had the worst experience of deprivation and isolation in all the Kurdish medical history who was now in a crisis situation as You’d expect her condition quickly deteriorated Her mother couldn’t cope and Jeanie was put into an institution she was also lost to science a court order stopping people like Susan Curtis going anywhere near her I Went from being asked to be her guardian – one week later being prevented from seeing her or phoning her and ever since then I’ve been Prevented from having any contact at all Janey’s almost 50 now. She’s still Institutionalized and still not allowed contact with the scientists. Her present condition is unknown We are continuing to learn more and more about how to help these children more and more about how these neglectful experiences influence their brain, but we’re just on the very very very cusp of Being able to be helpful because to date we haven’t done a very good job with that We just haven’t understood the brain of brain development in ways That would allow us to be as good as we can be and I think that that’s changing Why feral children like Jeanne would ever want to be reunited with their parents is perhaps explained in the 1960s experiments of notorious psychologist Harry Harlow he took newborn monkeys from their mothers and gave them a choice between a cold wire surrogate with milk or a Soft warm surrogate without they chose comfort above food every time So maybe we’ve been hardwired to expect comfort from our biological parents no matter what they do to us parlors work was really seminal in this entire field because he showed the crucial importance of the caregiving relationship between a mother and an infant and how the physical stimulation literally the physical contact with the caregiver has profound impact on health and development That same desire burns in Oxana 14 years after being freed from her parents appalling Cruelty She’s made some remarkable advances her speaking and language are far better than her caregivers ever imagined possible Now she makes the decision she wants to find and meet her mother and father I Want to see them with my own eyes so desperately because I’ve been told I have no parents, but actually I do have Her mother has long since disappeared but her father Alexander agrees to a reunion He leaves his farm and makes a 350 kilometres. Ernie – Oksana and There’s another surprise For support he brings along Mina Oksana’s half-sister. She didn’t even know existed It’s an awkward meeting a first father and daughter just stand there staring at each other Then a few tentative steps closer Even was video The villa mining trail we are live in like a rough You know Gotama is just divine For these children because they have not had the experiences that help their brain Organize systems to make sense of the world the world never makes sense Despite all the suffering and the damage it’s done to her brain Oksana does have an undeniable spirit and the truly remarkable human gift of forgiveness We should look at these children not with pity. But with awe, I mean they’re just It’s fascinating That you could go through something like that and that you would still be willing After what human beings have done to you that you’d still be willing to put your hand out and touch a new person Hello, I’m Tara Brown thanks for watching to keep up with the latest from 60 minutes, Australia Make sure you subscribe to our Channel You can also download the 9 now app for full episodes and other exclusive 60 minutes content

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