Chapter 3: Ghost Children

The folklore of many countries provides names for specific types of ghost children, who behave in generally consistent ways. However, in contemporary stories generated in the UK and the US, ghost children are as psychologically unique as their living counterparts—and often in the same stage of development as they were when they passed. While some ghost children have benign or even benevolent purposes, others, as in were victims of abuse who demand vengeance. Because ghost children often haunt the living in ways that resemble their crimes, they function as symbols of the so-called cycle of violence—the idea that abused children become abusers. Stories about ghost children who haunt living kids as not-so-imaginary playmates perform similar ideological work but simply divide the symbolism across both figures.