Feral animals are wild animals that are not owned or controlled by anyone, especially ones that belong to species which are normally owned and kept by people.
If you describe something or someone as Feral, you mean that they seem wild, fierce, and uncontrolled.
(definitions courtesy of Collins Dictionary)
FERAL CHILDREN - "This term is applied to children that reportedly have been raised by wild animals and isolated from human contact."
(courtesy of Nugent, Pam M.S., "Feral Children" in PsychologyDictionary.org, May 11, 2013)
Interestingly enough, a basic google search brings up no common definitions for the term "Feral Families", perhaps because such a thing has never existed or been reported to exist, until now, apparently.
On 26th October 2017 a UK based television company, Channel 4, aired a programme titled "Feral Families". Did this programme detail the lives of some hitherto unheard of family that had spent their lives divorced from society in some way? No, it did not. What it did highlight were the experiences of three UK based families who were, in the words of the show :
"..raising their children under the off-grid parenting philosophy."
This description was, for me, the first warning signal that this "documentary" was not going to present an opinion I would easily agree with.
"The vast majority of British kids go to school, but, in the last two years there has been a 65% increase in parents de-registering their children from the system.
It appears that more families are rejecting the traditional ways of bringing up kids and embracing rule-free households."
These two statements were delivered early in the documentary and served to set the tone for the entire piece.
While the first statement is a pure regurgitation of fact , the accompanying conclusion is so wildly erroneous and speculative as to be completely offensive.
One of the implications of this "conclusion" is that all families that de-register their children from the state provided school system are "rejecting traditional ways of bringing up kids". I cannot agree with this conclusion. Nothing contained in the documentary supported this position in any way.
In fact, upon closer examination of the information contained within the documentary another, far more plausible conclusion presents itself.
Of the three families presented, one had never sent it's seven children to school, while both of the other two families had previously sent at least one of their children to school and both cited their reason for withdrawing their child as being the negative impact the school environment had had upon their child. They went on to describe the marked and positive difference in their child's emotional well-being they experienced once they had removed said child from school.
The documentary chose to gloss over this information, obviously because it didn't really fit into the message they were trying to send. It seems clear to me however that, with the ever increasing deterioration of the state sponsored education system through lack of funding and poor Governmental leadership we are now seeing a growth in the number of children that are being negatively affected by the environment the state is providing. Psychological and mental health issues among children are rising steadily and the State sponsored education system has a direct part to play in this rise.
This point was obviously of no interest to the makers of this documentary.
The second implication in the conclusion drawn in this documentary was that ALL families who choose to home school their children do so in a "rules-free household". There was no evidence presented to support this utterly absurd and misleading assertion. The prime reason for that of course is that there is no evidence, because it is totally false.
There was a distinct negative tone throughout this documentary and some potential relevant information was conveniently omitted. Once such piece of information was the fact that, in withdrawing their children from school the parents were taking over the educational responsibilities for their children in their entirety. This includes financially. All of the financial burdens associated with the education of a child now fall directly on the parents shoulders. Personally, I would have thought that, given the current climate of under-funding of State schools, this marginal easing of that budgetary burden would have been worth a mention. Of course that would have introduced an element of positivity into the documentary which the producers obviously could not allow.
Right from the choice of title, it was clear that this documentary had one over-riding goal which was to paint families that home school their children in as unsavoury a light as possible while simultaneously branding them en-masse as "FERAL"
Speaking as a former Bachelors student of Psychology, a former Director of a Bi-Lingual Children's school and as a parent who has just removed their own son from school in order to home school them (also due to the repeated failings of the state sponsored system to support my son) I feel comfortable stating categorically that none of the behaviours displayed by either parents or children in that documentary could in any way be interpreted as "Feral". Without exception we were presented with intelligent, erudite individuals who had a clear sense of self and their place. The parents were all working adults and the children always seemed happy, well-cared for and well-mannered.
The term FERAL was a piece of sensationalist nonsense that had no business being associated with this subject matter.
In summation I can only say that what I saw was a poorly conceived piece of propaganda specifically designed to polarise public opinion against a group of people who are doing nothing more than extending their right to ensure the best provisions are made for their children and their families.
While we may not necessarily agree with the choices these three families have made thus far, we have absolutely no right to pre-judge them based on this carefully edited "snap-shot" of their lives, and we certainly have no right to label them in such a derogatory and potentially discriminatory fashion.
Shame on you Channel 4 for allowing such a poor piece of work to be shown on your channel.