It Takes a Village
It takes a village to raise a child.
This is the tragic story of two children raised in isolation.
This African proverb essentially means that “A child does not grow up only in a single home.”‘ “Regardless of a child’s biological parent(s) its upbringing belongs to the community.” (Quotes from Wikipedia)
This made me think of all the people involved in a child’s life other than their parents and immediate family. For example, teachers, friends, neighbors, extended family members and clergy are routinely involved a child’s welfare.
These role models help to shape a child and their viewpoints of the world around them. They set examples and influence a child’s thoughts and behaviors. A child learns how people behave by observing others, and through the experiences they’re exposed to.
Through positive, supportive interactions with the people in their life a child develops a sense of themselves as being worthy and valuable. They learn confidence. They learn to trust and to reach out to people.
Being part of a community, a culture or social group helps a child develop social skills. They learn what is acceptable as the norm within the group. They learn to conform to social rules of behavior and learn the value of belonging. A child forms friendships and strong bonds with peers that provide emotionally satisfying experiences.
I believe it’s important to surround a child with as much love and caring as possible. It’s normal and necessary to meet a child’s needs with an abundance of supportive people and resources outside of the parent home. I agree that it takes a village to raise a child.
With that being said, what happens to a child who is prevented from becoming a part of the world beyond the parent’s home? It seems hard to believe that there are children who have never been allowed to experience the typical life of a child.
For months I’ve been wrestling with an experience that shook me, seized me with fear and disgust to my very core. I witnessed first-hand what I consider the most extreme case of child abuse and neglect I’ve ever seen.
I’m not naive…I’ve seen a lot in my lifetime that has made me cringe. I never would have imagined that parents can raise their children in captivity, isolated and hidden from the outside world.
This is the story about those two beautiful children, now in their late teens, and the tyrant who imprisoned them and stole their lives. I’m compelled to give those children the voice they deserve.
Children are extraordinarily precious members of society; they are exquisitely alert, sensitive, and conscious of their surroundings; and they are extraordinarily vulnerable to maltreatment or emotional abuse by adults who refuse to give them the profound respect and affection to which they are unconditionally entitled. – Unknown
I was shocked when I met two children who were literally raised in captivity in their parents’ home. London is 19 years old now and his sister Moon is 16. Their mother died almost two years ago from cancer. They live at home with their father, who I suspect has been solely responsible for raising them in isolation. I’ve been to their home three times, and each time was more disturbing than the last.
These children shouldn’t be confused with the “wild child” who was raised without any human contact. Seemingly they were nurtured by their mother. Their father is present physically but unavailable emotionally. Other family members have distanced themselves and wear blinders. They sit back in silence and have allowed this to occur.
Their father, the tyrant, is a survivalist. He claimed he was preparing to survive the catastrophe of a collapsed society. He believes the Armageddon will happen in his lifetime and he is preparing for it. He has a cache of weapons and ammunition in the home and a large collection of items a family would need to survive an apocalyptic event.
You may wonder how the parents were able to hide these children all these years. They never attended school, but were home schooled by their mother. To home school a child, the local public school system requires oversight of the child’s education. They also provide the necessary curriculum. The children were never enrolled in the public schools. Because of this, they were virtually nonexistent.
Neither parent is educated beyond high school and has no qualifications to independently home school their children. With no input and oversight by the public school system it’s likely their education is way below even the most minimal standards. Moon claims she has a sixth grade education and has a learning disability. Without a professional evaluation there’s no way to know what level of education she has and whether or not she has a learning disability. This is what her parents told her and what she believes to be true. London has yet to take his GED. Since their mother’s death their education, what little there was, has been ignored.
Not only are they unprepared for the world in terms of education and work skills, they have no solid foundation in social skills. They have no friends their age to talk to and socialize with. They have no face to face peer interaction. In fact, they never leave the house.
A typical teenager gets their license, works and goes to school. They have friends they go out with to shop, eat pizza, watch movies, play sports and just hang out together. These children have no such life. When questioned the father’s responded, “at least they’re in the house. I know where they are and they’re not getting into trouble.”
How pathetic for those children to be forced to live in isolation. The only contact they have with the outside world is through the internet. I observed both of them on the internet every minute they’re awake. London is a gamer and is on the computer at least 12 hours a day every day. Moon is also on the computer at least 12 hours a day unmonitored with no adult supervision. This is their only source of stimulation and socialization. They’re maladjusted and aren’t evolving.
I think I’ve made my point. I will never forget these children. I had to leave the situation because I couldn’t do anything to help them. He would never allow me to influence the children by giving them what they need…a new life. I believe it would have been dangerous to stay in the situation. I would have become his hostage too. They are the lost, the forgotten, the undiscovered. I wonder how many more children there are who suffer from a similar tragedy.
This is a true story. The children’s names were changed to protect me and them.