Parents of “wolf children” on trial at Prague city court for child neglect

The parents of the “wolf children”, photo: CTK

The mother and father of two boys, dubbed “wolf children” by the Czech media, are currently on trial at a Prague city court. In a shocking and unusual case of child abuse, the parents never let their sons out of the apartment, did not dress them and fed them only liquid food. They deny charges of abuse and say they simply wanted to raise their children in an alternative way.

The parents of the “wolf children”,  photo: CTK
The parents of the two boys nicknamed “wolf children” by Czech media were dodging questions from journalists when their trial opened at Prague city court on Tuesday. The man and woman, both aged 36, claim that never letting their children outside of the house, giving them no clothes and feeding them only pureed food is not child abuse, but simply an alternative style of parenting. However, authorities disagree with this point of view and have charged the parents with neglect. The court’s spokeswoman Martina Lhotáková sums up the position of the prosecution.

“The parents face criminal charges because after the home birth of their two children, they kept their identity secret. The children never saw a doctor, were never take outside the flat. In addition, the parents neglected their hygiene and did not provide them with proper nutrition or toys. By neglecting them in this way, they inflicted grave damage on their children’s health.”

Illustrative photo
The two boys, aged one and two, were both delivered at home. When police discovered the children, they were unable to speak and only uttered cries and other noises. Due to not being fed solid food, the older of the two boys had not yet developed a biting reflex, which is highly unusual for a child of his age. The parents’ strange childrearing practices have also led to a number of other grave developmental setbacks: Experts say that both the boys are severely lagging behind in their mental and physical abilities.

Poor hygiene was another problem – the parents had gotten rid of all electronic appliances in the household, since they considered them unnecessary, and washed nappies by hand. However, the mother and father claim that they simply considered clothing and leaving the house unnecessary for their children’s well-being and did not mean to inflict any harm on them. The mother says she herself has only left the house about three times in the last three years. Child therapist Dr. Petra Vrtbovská of the NGO NATAMA says that such bizarre parenting methods can be very dangerous.

Petra Vrtbovská
“When the kids are small, no matter what their parents do to them, they have no choice, they cannot escape. So when people believe in things like kids do not need to go outside, or be fed solid food, and do that to the children, then their development is influenced. That’s very dangerous. In my practice, from time to time, I see parents with such strange beliefs, and it’s painful and not easy to work with.”

However, Dr. Vrtbovská believes that the two wolf boys can overcome their developmental shortcomings with proper care. Experts say that cases such as this, while rare, show how important it is that neighbors who may suspect child abuse alert the authorities. The parents of the two boys may face up to 12 years in prison.