Who and what are ghost children? As the name suggests, it’s a category of ghosts. You and I may not see them, you and I may not believe in spirits and life after death or even in the existence of a soul, yet an astounding amount has been written about them and innumerable stories related about them. In recent times, many such stories and videos have gone viral on social media, with the “fakes” being quickly segregated from the authentic ones.  In fact, ghost children in particular have always generated and attracted almost universal attention with even leading publications devoting a surprising amount of precious space to them. Just about a month and a half ago, for instance, the UK Mirror carried photographs and a fairly lengthy story: “Rocking horse is moved and thrown across room by ghosts of children in haunted antiques shop.”

It seems Daniel Parker, an antiques dealer, came into work at Barnsley Antiques Centre, South Yorks, to find the 1960s toy lying on the shop floor. Daniel said: “It was just completely bizarre—and I’m a skeptic. It just starts slowly rocking—just stopping and starting and then it flips off, as if someone is getting off the toy. As soon as I found it on the floor I immediately went to rewind the CCTV to see what it was. The thing is I’ve tried recreating the movement. I’ve tried moving the toy backwards and forwards in the way that it does on film, but it’s just impossible to recreate it. That movement just looks like it would have to be somebody on it. There’s absolutely no explanation.

“He also said when his daughter Kacey was about 11 she ran screaming from the shop basement after going down there for a wander.”I said “what’s up, what’s up?” and she said “an arm reached out to grab me.” “They do say that the mill owner who worked on the old mill on the site in the 1800s died here he hanged himself in the 1960s apparently, and it was a baby care store before Daniel set up shop.”

Children could become ghosts because of several reasons and scenarios.  When an adult dies, the spirits of loved ones and spirit guides help the person make a transition to the other world.  When a child dies, it is no different. “Yet, for various reasons, sometimes, a child will not move on and slips to remain behind here with family, friends, a pet, or their former environment. Often times, when a child remains behind, it is due to emotional trauma of some sort….”

In current times especially, children who are emotionally traumatised because they are victims of violence or have already died violent deaths deserve special attention. With their lives cut short so early and so brutally in a violent jerk when they aren’t ready to go, their traumatised spirits are bound to haunt the land of the living.  This has been so for countless ages. For instance in 2015 Eli Nixon wrote about the Dead Children’s Playground at Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville, Alabama, USA. 

“Nestled on the edge of the sprawling cemetery is a small playground, and when the clock strikes 10 on a dead-calm night, the rusty swings creak to life, slides groan under unseen weight, and unearthly giggles sound out over the still cemetery grounds… Legend has it that Alabama’s Madison County went through a rash of child abductions in the early ’60s. The children were later found discarded in the playground. Visitors often leave with stories of ephemeral lights floating around the playground—the spirits of the ghost kids.”

Years ago, when I was touring Punjab and Haryana with a French documentary filmmaker for interviews on feticide and girl children, many families, even in far flung village habitations, volunteered chilling, poignant stories of murdered girl children who continued to haunt the family. One account in particular still haunts me. A newly born, unwanted girl child was killed by stuffing a large ball of wheat dough in her tiny mouth. That night, according to the dead girl’s mother, her angry, upset ghost appeared and threw every single thing out of the house. The girl’s ghost then clung to her mother’s bosom, wailing piteously. “I was both terrified and terribly ashamed”, admitted the mother, “because first we killed her at birth, and then, when she returned as a ghost, we wanted to get rid of her again. Can there be a greater misfortune than to be so unwanted?”   

In April this year, Agence Global distributed an insightful article written by Rami G Khouri, senior public policy fellow and professor of journalism at the American University of Beirut, and a non-resident senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Middle East Initiative. Titled “Beware the ghosts of the starved children of Yemen”,  the piece points out that children caught in violence are helpless victims, that warfare has left millions of people in Yemen, Syria, Libya, and Iraq destitute and desperate. “ … the poor who were invisible in life will also remain invisible in death. Only their ghosts will come back to haunt us one day. There is nothing in the world more frightening than the ghost of a starved child seeking retribution.”

Can we help the ghosts of children who walk unseen among us, especially those who may refuse to respond to any help because of a mental focus on the past, or due to trauma or fear?  Also, while some ghosts of children do seek help from the living world by drawing attention to themselves through “haunting” which can take several forms, there are others who are simply unaware that they are in a ghostly state. It is actually easier to help child ghosts than adult ghosts because  child ghosts still tend to have a playful, innocent spirit, even though they may be lost or traumatised or both.

Incidentally, most times living children and animals seem to be able to perceive a ghost child better than adults. Being tolerant of child ghosts and seeking guidance from a spiritual guru or a paranormal expert would be the best ways to help ghost children. As a website devoted to the paranormal has written:   “Some ghosts of children are indeed attracted to the living, seeming to enjoy time spent interacting with a family that may or may not be their own…If we can help these little ones find their way home to family, friends and loved ones, then we have done a great service indeed.”

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