Ghost Children

  • Karen J. Renner


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 USA, ghost children are as psychologically unique in death as they were in life—and often fixed in the same stage of development as they were when they passed. While some ghost children have benign or even benevolent purposes, others are 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 will become abusers. Stories about not-so-imaginary playmates, ghost children who haunt living kids, perform similar ideological work but divide the symbolism across both figures. The living child represents the victim of abuse while the ghost symbolizes the abuser he or she may become.


Abuse Child Moral Panic Happy Ending Sesame Street American Version 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen J. Renner
    • 1
  1. 1.Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA

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