Feral Children

Figure 1.--Here we see an older feral person, no longer a child, found in India when he was about 14 years old. The press caption read, "Ramu, the 'wolf boy' who puzzled medical scientists for 14 years, died April 20. He was about 28 years old but doctors said he had 'over-lived'. Ramu, who was apparently raised by wolves in the Indian wilderness, was fond Jnuary 17, 1954 in the Lucknow Railway Station. In this 1960 photo, Ramu is examoned by Dr. D.N. Sharma as others look on."

A feral meaning child growing up in the wild apart from other humans from a young age have been reported since ancient times. Some of these children are alleged to have been raised by nimals. Others my have lived in the wild on their own. Such children are very rare, but more than a hundred such children have been reported. One of the earliest are the legendary Romans, Romulus and Remus who were according to the legend raised by wolves. There have continued to be reports of such children into modern times. Since they did not experience enculturation they would seem to be way of assessing human nature. This has, however, not proved to be the case. Many of the reported feral children have ben frauds. Others have been abndoned because of handicps, most commonly mental retardation. But the greatest problem is that of language. This is a critical aspect of being human and if the developing young mind is not exposed to lnguage at a very young age, the child will not develop basic language skills. This has aowerful impact on their behavior. As language is a basic element of being human, it is difficult to assess human nature in such children. The first feral child actually studied was Victor of Aveyron, a feral child who was found in 1797 wandering in the woods near Saint-Sernin-sur-Rance, France. The case was made into a provocative film, 'The Wild Child' (1968) by Truffaut. It is often difficult to know if children like Victor were really feral children or retarded children who parents could no longer cared for and thus abandoned. And the subjected entered the literary phere with Kipling's Jungle Book is about such a child. Mowgli in the book was brought up by the wolves. And there is a similar story line for Burroughs's Tarzan, only he was raised by apes. While it makes for a good story, as far as we know, there is no evidence that any of the ferral children were actually raised by animals.


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Created: 5:21 PM 10/14/2012
Last updated: 6:31 AM 10/15/2012