What is a Feral Child?

Tarzan Falls, Guam. The Legend of Tarzan is an example of feral child folklore.
Tarzan Falls, Guam. The Legend of Tarzan is an example of feral child folklore.

The term feral child is used to describe a child who has lived in isolation from a tender age and has lacked human contact. Such kind of children experience little or nothing at all in terms of human behavior, care, and language. A feral child can either grow in the wild or in confinement, where the child’s parents or guardians limit human association with the child. The wild child is commonly quoted in folklore and myths and is often depicted as living in a wild state or being raised by wild animals.

The Legend Of Remus And Romulus

Legend has it that Rome City was founded by twin boys named Remus and Romulus who were abandoned in the wilderness after being born to a princess. A she-wolf found them and fed them until a shepherd named Faustulus adopted them. The shepherd and his wife raised them as their own as they did not have biological children. Remus and Romulus are noted as prominent players in the events preceding the founding of the City of Rome. Feral children cases, either alleged or documented, have been told since the 14 century.

What Makes A Feral Child Different From Other Children?

A wild child does not possess socialization skills such as speaking a human language. The child lacks some critical traits that people associate with being human such as a desire to interact in society. Feral children often develop traits that fit their environment. A child who has grown up in the wilderness, for example, learns to feed as the animals feed. A child who has lived in the wild walking on fours may find it difficult to walk upright. They can also mimic the mannerisms of the animals such as barking and growling. A feral child does not have to grow in the wild however as there have been cases of children growing up abandoned in basements or locked in houses. Feral children find it hard to integrate into society after years of living in isolation and may be afraid of human interaction. A wild child cannot fully learn a human language and may have trouble learning basic things such as using the toilet.

Famous Cases Of Feral Children

One notable case of feral children is that of Amala and Kamala, which has been criticized as being false. The case was described in 1926 by Reverend J.A. L. Singh, an Anglican Missionary. He ordered the capture of the girls from a forest near Godamuri in India, where they had been living among wolves. The girls’ ages were estimated at eight and two, and the Reverend described them as having elongated canines and misshapen jaws. Despite efforts to integrate them into society, the two girls did not survive for long. A much-publicized case of a feral child in the US is that of Genie. She was born in 1957 in the state of California. Her father decided that she was mentally disabled and he locked her in isolation after restraining her in a child toilet seat. Genie failed to learn language due to the confinement and lack of human interaction. Child welfare authorities shed light on her case in 1970 after a social worker noticed her unusual condition. She did not fully learn a language despite undergoing treatment and research.


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