11 Unsettling Stories About Ghost Children That Will Haunt Your Dreams Tonight
For the past week, Twitter has been on the edge of its proverbial seat as the saga of “Dear David,” an alleged ghost that appears to be haunting illustrator and writer Adam Ellis’ apartment, has unfolded — but Dear David isn’t the only creepy child ghost to have menaced the general public before. Far from it, in fact; there are unsettling stories about ghost children all over the internet, rife throughout the library, and passed down from generation to generation — and no matter how recent or how old they are, they’re all the most chilling combination of freaky and sad.
I often wonder what it is about child ghosts in particular that pull at our fears. After all, given the choice between a malevolent child and a malevolent adult, many people would likely agree that a kid is a little easier to deal with than a full-grown adult. So why do we find them so frightening? The horror YouTube channel BlueLavasix has a fantastic video breaking down what makes the creepy child trope so… well, creepy, so I’ll send you over there for the full story — but what it ultimately comes down to is this: When kids seem like they have the kind of knowledge that kids shouldn’t have — the kind of knowledge that we only acquire as adults — it goes against everything we think we know about how kids develop. And that? Is kind of frightening.
A child ghost who seems intent on messing you up definitely falls under that heading.
But the good news is that, even though they’re often unsettling, the kinds of spooky youngsters that feature in many ghost stories —both real life, as seen here, and fictional — aren’t always malevolent. That may not make them any less creepy, but at least not all of them are out to kill you, right?
Still, though. That Dear David — he seems like he’s one you’re going to want to keep an eye on.
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1. The Ghost Boy Of Clinton Road
Clinton Road in West Milford, New Jersey is said to be the most haunted road in America. I’m not quite sure it’s that — but having been there myself, I can assure that it’s plenty terrifying even without anything haunting it: All those hairpin turns are not only tough to navigate, but also really freaky when you’re suddenly faced with an SUV going way to fast whipping around the corner and almost hitting you. (True story.)
That said, though, if you believe in ghosts, it’s also worth a visit — and while you’re there, make sure you check out what’s known as Ghost Boy Bridge. It’s said that if you travel down the road at midnight, stop at the bridge, and toss a coin over the edge into the river below, the ghost of a boy who dwells underneath it will toss it back out at you. We don’t know who he is or why he haunts the bridge, but he’d probably appreciate some company. He seems to be fond of stuffed animals, if the various toys left on trees around the area are anything to go by.
2. The Black-Eyed Children
To be fair, I’m not really sure that what are known as black-eyed children, black-eyed kids, or simply BEK are ghosts, per se; they are, however, terrifying and shaped like children, so I think they belong here. There are a lot of stories about them floating around the internet from people who have allegedly run into them; usually, they look to be kids anywhere between the ages of 6 and 18 who say they need your help in some way, shape, or form. If you’re in a car, they might need a ride; if you’re at home, they might need to use your phone. Whatever they say they “need,” though, don’t believe it — it’s a ploy to get you to open your door to them. And once you do that… it’s probably not going to go well.
Did I mention that their eyes are pitch black? Because they are. Just sayin’.
The very first BEK story appeared on the internet in 1998;journalist Brian Bethel posted an experience he had had in a parking lot to an online newsgroup. He still swears it’s true.
3. The Sheet Ghost
This gem was posted in AskReddit thread in 2014, and honestly, it is still one of my favorite stories from any paranormal/supernatural Reddit thread I have ever read. The thread itself was started by u/L0VE-child; simply titled, “Have you ever encountered something paranormal?”, it’s a treasure trove of alleged real-life spookiness. Despite its age, it’s still worth checking out if you’re into that kind of thing. (I am definitely into that kind of thing.)
4. The Dead Children’s Playground
In Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville, Ala., there’s a playground. It’s an unusual place for a playground, to be sure — and it’s all the more unusual for its name: The Dead Children’s Playground. It’s said that the swings will occasionally move on their own in a way that suggests it’s not just the wind; additionally, people have reported hearing the voices of children laughing and singing when there are no children nearby.
Exactly why the playground is haunted is up for debate. One legend says that during the 1960s, a child abductor was at large in the area; the remains of the children who didn’t return home are said to have been found where the playground now stands. (For what it’s worth, though, I haven’t been able to verify that this rash of child abductions actually happened, so you might want to treat it as an urban legend.) However, another legend simply states that the Dead Children’s Playground is where the child ghosts of the cemetery go when they want to have some fun. They’re kids, after all, right?
In 2011, The Awl ran a piece collecting real-life ghost stories from five writers. They’re all terrific — wonderfully spooky events excellently told — but Brent Cox’s tale is particularly creepy: When he was around 11 or 12, he wrote, he had his sister regularly played with a Ouija board. Not a proper one (they’d had one once, a Christmas gift, but their grandmother made them burn it) — but you don’t need a “proper” Ouija board in order to make the magic (evil?) work. They just took a piece of plywood and made their own. And although they had “conversations”with all sorts of “spirits” one summer, there was but one that made a lasting impression.
Cox came in from the outside one night to find that he’d missed a phone call from a girl his mother told him called herself “Kay.” He didn’t know any Kays — but the day before, during a Oujia session, he and his sister had “contacted” someone named Kay who had supposedly died young.
Kay, it turned out, had also left her number. So Cox called her. And she actually answered.
Was it a prank? Maybe. Cox tried the number a few times after that, but Kay never answered again.
She does have a tendency to ring him whenever he’s near a Ouija board, though.
(Read the full piece here; it's well worth it.)
6. The Boy With The Box
This one is from the same 2014 Reddit thread the one about the sheet ghost came from. I kind of like the idea of a generational ghost; I wonder if he’s still there?
Actually… this one sounds a little like Dear David.
Maybe Adam Ellis’ ghost is just looking for his mom.
7. The Radiant Boy
When I first heard about the Radiant Boy, I was expecting something involving phosphorus and matches and a story like one of the subplots in The Dress Lodger — and I’ll admit that I’m a little disappointed that’s not what it turned out to be. The story is still good, though, so let’s take a look at it anyway:
Corby Castle in Cumbria, England, is the ancestral home of the Howard family (as in, Catherine Howard, fifth wif eof Henry VIII). It also plays host to a small boy who is… not of this plane of existence. A journal entry written by Reverend Henry of Redburgh in 1803 recounted the one and only night he and his wife spent in the place while visiting: He woke in the wee hours of the morning and found the fire had burned out — but something was glimmering in the middle of the room. The glimmer grew, becoming as like a flame… and out of the flame came the apparition of a beautiful boy, dressed in white and with golden hair. He did not appear malevolent; indeed, he seemed quite mild. He drifted over to the chimney and then vanished.
The reverend and his wife left the next day.
The Radiant Boy, as he’s known, has apparently been seen by quite a few people; it’s said that whoever saw him would grow wealthy and famous before coming to a tragic end. Is the Radiant Boy a prophet? A harbinger? A curse? Maybe all of the above.
8. The Imaginary Friend
It’s not uncommon for kids to have imaginary friends; indeed, it’s actually good for kids to have them. Recent research has found that kids with imaginary friends have better social skills, better verbal skills, and are generally more creative than kids who don’t have them — and what’s more, these benefits continue into adulthood.
Interestingly, though, there are an awful lot of stories out there like this one from the Horror Confessions Twitter account — stories that seem to suggest that an imaginary friend is actually a ghost. Are they? Aren’t they? You be the judge.
9. The Ghost On Gladiolus Street
Not all of New Orleans’ ghosts are in the French Quarter; the city is so rich in history that spooky tales can be found throughout it. In the Gentilly section of New Orleans, for example, there’s a house. I mean, there are a lot of houses there — but this one is special, even if it doesn’t look it. It’s one story, with two bedrooms; built in the 1900s, it’s been located at its lot on Gladiolus Street for at least a century. And it’s allegedly home to a wide variety of ghosts, the most intriguing of which is that of a little boy.
We don’t know his name or why he haunts the house, but he’s thought to be around 10 years old. He likes a good prank, and he tends to giggle when the house’s residents do things like stub their toes. His voice has been recorded by paranormal investigators speaking about the other ghosts in the house — many of which don’t appear to be friendly.
But the boy, at least, is. Think of him as a real-life Casper.
10. The Crying Ghost
Little Moreton Hall, located in Cheshire, England, looks like something out of a fairytale, a gingerbread house come to life (except, y’know,not made out of gingerbread). Built in the early 1500s, it has seen more thanits fair share of history — so it’s perhaps unsurprising that some of its ownhistory still wanders its halls late at night.
And there are lots of them. The most notable is probably the “grey lady” who haunt the gallery, floating down the length of the space before vanishing into thin air. Sadder though, is this: At certain times, the heart-wrenching sobs of a ghostly child have been echoing through the chapel.No one knows who the child is or why they’re crying, but it’s one of the most forlorn sounds you’ll ever hear.
11. The Hospital Bed
You’ll probably want to take this one with a grain of salt,as it was reported primarily by tabloids, but it’s pretty spooky all the same:In February of 2017, nurses at Argentina’s Cordoba Children’s Hospital allegedly captured footage of what they believe to be the ghost of a child peeking out from behind a hospital bed stored in a corridor. Personally, I’m not convinced it’s not just a shadow or a glitch in the camera — I had to squint really hard to see it — but opinions seem to be split on whether there’s a ghost there or not. Those who believe are saying that it’s the spirit of a child who died in room 500.
What do you think?