NOVEMBER 4: Genie, the feral child

This is a terrible story, yet one to remember. What can we do to prevent this from happening again? My 11-year-old daughter asked me that. All I can say is, keep our eyes open, and never think, “it’s not my business.”

BEST TEENAGERS EVER

ON THIS DATE in 1970, a thirteen-year-old feral child who therapists called Genie was discovered in a Los Angeles suburb.

Genie had spent almost her entire life in isolation, much of it tied to a potty chair, and was undernourished, could barely walk, and couldn’t speak. Her parents were charged with abuse but Genie’s father committed suicide the day before he was due to appear in court. 

The girl made early language process, learning 100 words by the spring of 1971, but regressed after the National Institute of Mental Health revoked funding for her treatment and research in the fall of 1974. Genie moved from one foster home to another and suffered more abuse — one set of foster parents severely beat her for vomiting.

She is now in a facility for mentally underdeveloped adults.

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