by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
Paranormal Underground Magazine
Popular media seems to point to a new trend in paranormal investigation. Kids are getting into the field. Most of them come to it the same way that a lot of grown ups do these days. They see it on TV. They think it looks cool. They decide to try it themselves.
Need evidence that kids are getting into it? The Cartoon Network has launched The Othersiders, a group of teens who hunt for ghosts. Author Marley Gibson’s Teen Ghost Huntress series is due out this year, and her guide for teen ghost hunters, The Other Side, co-written with Patrick Burns and Dave Schrader is due to hit the shelves soon.
Other projects are also in the works, including the Teen Extreme Ghost Hunters Club. In that program, parents can send their kids to “camp” for several months, paying different prices based on whether or not they allow their teens to appear on the television show that is a part of the program.
The paranormal is being presented as entertainment. In some cases, it is entertaining; however, as we all know, there’s more to it than just a good time and a quick thrill. There are expenses. There are scary situations. There is a whole lot of sitting around waiting for something to happen. There is a whole lot of nothing happening. There are hours and hours of evidence review.
Not only that, but there are kids who believe that they are going to grow up to be “professional” ghost hunters. For those of you whose empty wallets scream in pain after purchasing yet another piece of equipment or paying to travel to a new location (like mine does), you know the fallacy of the “professional ghost hunter” better than others. The return on investment is knowledge and experience – not cash.
Whether or not kids and teens should be participating in paranormal investigation, the reality of the situation is that they are. And if is the case, then whose responsibility is it to make sure that those kids and teens entering the paranormal field in droves are learning investigation based on safety, respect and sound investigatory technique?
Let’s be frank. Paranormal experiences can be disconcerting for even the most mature among us. In some cases, they can be downright terrifying and traumatic. Many adults who had paranormal experiences at an early age spend much of their lives attempting to understand, rationalize and deal with what it is that they experienced. Now kids are actively seeking out these types experiences – regardless of whether grown ups feel that they should or not.
Because youth ghost hunting is a reality, there needs to be a network of support for those who have experiences. While it is certainly incumbent upon the parents to be part of this network of support, often the parents are just as frightened by their kids’ experiences as the kids are. Where can young people who experience the paranormal turn? More and more they are turning to the paranormal community. They are showing up on paranormal bulletin boards, reading paranormal publications and watching paranormal television in an attempt to find answers to their experiences.
When they show up on an Internet bulletin board, they often don’t identify themselves as teens (although usually it is fairly apparent). How we respond to these kids can have a huge impact on how they process their experience. They probably don’t need to be told what they did or didn’t experience. What they most likely need is to be given a basis for critical thinking, a compassionate ear and a dose of perspective so that they can do as we all have done, and work through their own experience.
I’m a big advocate of parents taking care of their own children; however, I am not naive enough to believe that every parent has the tools or willingness to do so. As it has always been in society, it becomes somewhat incumbent on the community at large to help in those cases of innocents whose parents fall short. In the case of kids and the paranormal, we become that community.
Up until now, most of the dialog I have seen centers on whether or not kids should be allowed to investigate the paranormal. The bottom line is that they are. Right or wrong, this is what is happening. Given this reality over which we have very little control, perhaps it is time for the dialog to change. Kids are in the paranormal. Now how can we, as the paranormal community, help them to approach investigation responsibly and process their experiences in an emotionally healthy and constructive manner?
I look forward to hearing what you think about this. Please comment either in the comments section here, or join us in the paranormal debate section of our forum.