The term wild child is used to describe a child who has lived in isolation from an early age and who has not had human contact. This type of child experiences little or nothing in terms of human behavior, care and language. A wild child can grow up in the wild or in isolation, where the child’s parents or guardians limit the human association with the child. The wild child is commonly quoted in folklore and myths and is often depicted as living in a wild or wild-bred state.
The legend of Remus and Romulus
Legend has it that the city of Rome was founded by two twins named Remus and Romulus who were abandoned in the desert after being born of a princess. A she-wolf found them and fed them until a shepherd named Faustolo adopted them. The pastor and his wife raised them as if they had no biological children. Remus and Romulus are known as protagonists in the events that precede the foundation of the Municipality of Rome. Cases of alleged or documented injured children have been reported since the 14th century.
What makes a wild child different from other children?
A wild child has no socialization skills like speaking a human language. The child lacks some critical traits that people associate with being human, like the desire to interact in society. Wild children often develop traits that adapt to their environment. A child raised in the desert, for example, learns to feed himself as the animals feed. A child who has lived in freedom by walking on four may have difficulty walking upright. They can also imitate the ways of animals like barking and growling. A wild child does not have to grow up in the wild, however there have been cases of children raised abandoned in basements or closed in homes. Wild children find it difficult to integrate into society after years of life in isolation and may be afraid of human interaction. A wild child cannot fully learn a human language and may have difficulty learning basic things like using the bathroom.
Famous cases of wild children
A notable case of wild children is that of Amala and Kamala, which has been criticized as false. The case was described in 1926 by the Rev. JAL Singh, an Anglican missionary. He ordered the capture of the girls from a forest near Godamuri in India, where they lived among the wolves. The girls’ ages were estimated at eight and two, and the Reverend described them as having elongated canines and deformed jaws. Despite efforts to integrate them into society, the two girls did not survive long.
A highly publicized case of a wild child in the United States is that of Genie. She was born in 1957 in the state of California. Her father decided that she was mentally disabled and locked her in isolation after holding her in a child seat. The genius failed to learn the language due to confinement and lack of human interaction. Child welfare authorities shed light on his case in 1970 after a social worker noticed his unusual condition. He did not fully learn a language despite having undergone treatment and research.