Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Lately it appears the question has been raised… “should children be allowed on Ghost Tours”  This appears to have surfaced after a light hearted status Haunted Horizons put up about two 7 year olds that I took on a daytime, playschool version of a Ghost Tour at Tailem Town Pioneer Village by request of their parents. 

I could give a short answer to this and leave it at that.  However, once I started to think about it, I realised this question had many facets to be answered and would actually give me an incentive to start writing articles again, something I have missed doing.  So I will try to answer some of the points raised.

1.      “Children should never be allowed on Ghost Tours”
This is quite a broad statement.  The line here seems to have been blurred between fun and entertaining storytelling compared to going out in the field investigating.  I personally agree that children should possibly never be allowed on investigations and my own children were always refused permission to do this with me.  Other parents may have differing views and this is their right.  I have always maintained that Investigation Tours and the late evening adult ghost tours would be out of bounds, without a doubt.  The Investigation tours… because they become more real whilst doing them so deviate away from mere storytelling.  The adult ghost tours later in the evening?  Because I would have to adjust my stories and tone them right down which would be unfair on the rest of the tour.  So, for me, those tours will always be aimed at 14-15+.  Would I give a young family a ghost tour earlier on in an evening… you bet!  Does that make me unethical as a guide?  I don’t believe so.

2.     “It is too scary for children on ghost tours”
It would depend on the ghost tour and the way it is delivered.  Children have been delighting in scary tales since the dawn of time.  Thousands of years ago, supernatural stories were told to wide eyed children around the campfires at night.  In fact this is a tradition that continues to this day.  How many parents haven’t delighted in telling the odd creepy story to their children whilst out camping and sitting around that fire?  It was an essential part of life and aided in keeping the children scared enough to hopefully stop them straying at night or wandering around unsafe places.  They were dangerous times for a child.  Although we like to think we are modernised, all those old instincts and traditions are still deeply rooted within us all to this day. The multitude of ghostly books and shows for children that are around us show that they too follow that age old tradition of being ‘creeped out’ by ghostly tales.  Halloween celebrations each year show just how much they love it!  Should we ban Halloween too?

3.       “Tours taking them into a haunted area are unethical and dangerous?” 
Surely this is the silliest of all. Let’s think about this one rationally… if this was the case then maybe a sign should be put up at every historical site or hotel that is potentially haunted saying “Sorry, no children allowed”.  Ask yourself, how many children pass through these places every single day and come out alive and untraumatised?   If their friend’s house happens to be supposedly haunted… do we stop them playing or staying over there?  Do we ban them from being with their friend because of this?  As a family, would you stop visiting old castles and Gaols/Jails because it was reputedly haunted?  Would you decide not to stay in that beautiful old Hotel, whilst on holidays because it was rumoured to have a ghost?  So, where is the difference and where is the harm?

4.      “They could be attacked by a ghost so we are putting them in danger without protection”.  In reality this is a belief not a fact.  I have been in the field 22 years and have yet to hear of an incident of children being attacked on a ghost tour or in haunted public areas whilst visiting with their parents.

Do any of us have the right to deprive a family from having a fun and enjoyable experience? Children can scare themselves far more by having uncontrolled access to the internet then by being told a ghost story by an ethical and talented story teller on a tour.

At the end of the day a family/child Ghost Tour is nothing more than a fun history tour.  It has always been a way of bringing to children, what would otherwise be a boring subject.  It should be remembered that a Ghost Tour is entertainment and storytelling; it isn’t going out into the field trying to communicate with anything.  A guide with experience will know how to handle these stories and the children they are dealing with, so that they go home happy and free of nightmares but having had a fun time.

My own children love to go on Ghost Tours and have done many around the world.  Would I deprive them of this fun and entertainment?  Absolutely not, it makes for a great family night out.

How did the Playschool version Ghost Tour go with the two 7 year olds?  Fantastic!  The children were riveted and began to appreciate the old buildings and the people who once lived in them.  We laughed, we had fun and those wide eyed children went home completely nightmare free.  Even better, the parents who had doubts at first, went home extremely happy too.

Kids are fun on Ghost Tours and Ghost Tours are fun for kids.  I will always be happy to put on a specially designed tour for these delightful members of our society!

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