Sociology Index

FERAL CHILD

A feral child is who, in legend or in fact, has been raised and protected from infancy by animals. The most famous example of feral child is the ‘Wild Boy of Averon’ who was a feral child discovered in 1800 at the age of eleven or twelve after having apparently been raised by animals. Although considerable effort was made to ‘civilize’ the feral child, there was little success and only a few words were mastered. The case of feral child is offered in the social sciences to emphasize the importance of socialization and the social nature of the human species.

A more recent example of a feral child growing up in isolation from human contact is found in the story of Genie (Curtiss 1977). The fera in feral child refers to wild, untamed, uncultivated. A feral child is the human that has nearly become an animal. How did a feral child end up in such inhumane situation. Feral child stories tell more about ourselves, than the so-called feral child. By defining the feral, we define the normal and that’s reason why these stories capture our imaginations.

Illicit Crossings - The Other at the Human/Animal Boundary
H. Peter Steeves (DePaul University)
Abstract: In an effort to understand what we mean by “human” and “animal,” how it is that we decide crises of Otherness and alterity along such axes, this paper looks at the question of feral child or feral children (“human” children raised in the wild by “nonhuman animals”) and Bigfoot creatures (“animals” that are very nearly “human”).