The question comes up from time to time, when is my child old enough to go on an investigation? While all children are different, this article will address a few concerns and help one make that determination.
The question has been brought up, Should children be involved in investigating the paranormal? There are many factors to take into consideration. This article will address a few of them.
The first is the most direct. What kind of investigation are you working? If it is a private client case the answer is definitive, No children under 18. Period. And the answer has nothing to do with the child.
Private client cases involve liability and dealing with a client. In most jurisdictions a child under 18 cannot sign a legally binding contract. Since a private investigation generally involves going onto a client's property most investigators sign a release from liability agreement to cover them in event of injury. This is all well and good. But a child's signature on such an agreement means nothing. And even a parent cannot sign away a child's right to compensation . While it may be fine for now, many states allow a child a period when he may reopen any such claim upon reaching the age of 18. Thus the child may press a previous client for damages years after the fact regardless of any waiver signed by the parents. And who wants to deal with that sort of stuff. So if you are doing a private case, the definitive answer is no children involved. And if you are considering contacting an investigator and they want to include a child under 18, find another investigator.
So where can I take a child to introduce them to the paranormal?
Consider public locations. While most of these are not that great for serious investigations due to the inexperience of the general public attending they can serve as a good introduction for a child. Younger children may find the stories offered by guides quite scary at times so you would have to know ahead of time how your child will respond to a classic type of ghost story. Older children generally have no problem with this so more graphic stories and history may be presented. Scope out ahead of time whether the location you are considering is appropriate for your child.
And avoid cemeteries. Why? Because they are centered around death and dying. This serves to provide an unbalanced fixation relating death to ghosts and the paranormal. In reality that connection has been neither proven nor disproven. Investigation is about finding answers. If at some future time the traditional ghost theory is proven false, and ghosts turn out to be something totally unrelated, this preconception would be false. Why promote something that has not been verified. Better to remain unbiased keeping all possibilities open until such time as they are proven.
Now that that is out of the way, the question remains, Should children be involved in paranormal investigating? The short answer is it depends on the child. It also depends on the manner they are involved and the ability of someone to mentor them. Paranormal investigating has many things to offer in the positive. It also has a few negatives.
How young is too young?
There is no magic age, it depends on the maturity of the child. If a child can spend hours simply sitting waiting for something to happen, fine. If not he's too immature.
My Child is Ready. What Do I Need To Know?
To begin with it is a fact that much of what is claimed to be paranormal is not. A child observing an unbiased investigation has much to learn about deductive reasoning, logic, science, and how to apply each to find answers. It can give the child an opportunity to examine clues and solve a mystery. As such it provides a sense of accomplishment.
But in the wrong direction it can be detriment. If the child is following an adult who accepts things without question, who claims spirits are responsible for everything, finds demons around every corner, or even fails to question if a rational explanation might resolve the case, it leads to blind acceptance. A child learning in this manner is easily deceived by things he may encounter in an investigation. He accepts by appearance, never questioning the "hows" or "whys". So not only is the child an issue, who he goes with is also a major consideration.
A child going on a group investigation can learn teamwork. he learns to work with other members of the team and how to conduct the research in an organized manner. He is also exposed to how data is evaluated and how to find answers.
What About Something Attaching Itself To The Child?
I have been investigating for over 35 years and to date I have never encountered anything attaching itself to or following anybody home. Some have made that claim but I really don't see a problem there because it is so rare. Consider first of all that 95% of cases are in fact not paranormal at all. Obviously nothing is going to attach itself if the cause is a squeaky door.
But there is one consideration here, and it goes back to the mentor. If the child is conditioned to believe spirits are present, and they do such things as attachments, then the thought has already been planted in the child's head. So there is a possibility the child may think something has attached itself even if the facts are otherwise. So conditioning is a definite concern, but seldom is a problem if the child has been taught to question everything. His own deductive reasoning will serve to prevent any such problems.
A few may be tempted to bring up the demonic here. But the facts are that demons are extremely rare, and even they have limits as to whether or not one can be affected by them. I won't go into religion here, but one's religious convictions are the primary deterrent for this type of activity should it be encountered. Because it is so rare it should be no more of a deterrent to a child participating in an investigation than the possibility he could get hurt deter him from playing football. In the end it's up to the parent to determine if and when the child is ready and to provide him with a suitable training experience and mentor to show the proper methods of investigating the unknown.