ByKarly Rayner, writer at
Movie Pilot's celebrity savant
Karly Rayner

Children's drawings that depict terrible scenes are a horror movie troupe that never fails to send a chill down the spine, but why do kids draw such horrors in real-life and why do they affect us so much as adults?

It is often implied in horror movies that the little ones who scrawl scenes of ghosts, murders or live burials are evil, possessed or have witnessed unspeakable terrors, but when it comes to real children the explanation is obviously very different.

House of Terror
House of Terror

Hayley Campbell of Vice Magazine spoke to clinical psychologist named Luana Lewis about how she would react if she was presented with a child who had produced a portfolio of bloody sketches and she said:

I wouldn't draw any conclusions based on the drawings alone. It would flag up for me that the child might have witnessed or been exposed to violence, and I would ask about that. I would also wonder if the child was exposed to age-inappropriate programs, etc. But I wouldn't assume there was an emotional problem in the absence of other information or symptoms

The most common reason for children to draw scenes of death and destruction is being influenced by things they have seen, read or heard.

A lot of children's movies and books are chock a block with emotive death scenes, vengeful spirits and violent demises, and in order for them to make sense of these scary things, a lot of kids choose to draw them.

A preoccupation with drawing grisly scenes or images of ghosts and spirits does not suggest an unhealthy obsession, but is more likely to point to a child who is upset by what they have seen but does yet have the language skills to express how they are feeling.

A drawing from an Albanian refugee
A drawing from an Albanian refugee

A good example of this is drawings of children from war torn countries. Obviously, these young people are not evil, they are just trying to make sense of the violence they have witnessed. This can happen to a lesser degree from violent TV shows, video games, books, or even conversations.

But why do we as adults have such a strong reaction to drawings like these from children?

Kim Newman, a horror movie expert, theorizes that this is because:

Society expects us to love children, when sometimes, especially with other people's horrible kids, it's not possible. The meaning of the title 'The Turn of the Screw' is that any given ghost story or tragedy is more upsetting if children are involved

Basically, we are programmed to see ourselves as children's protectors and when they reveal that they have know disturbing things that we don't, it puts us ill at ease.

The fact that our strong reactions to drawings like this have been played upon in horror movies since around the '70s has also added to the feeling of unease that creeps up upon us.


Do you remember drawing disturbing things as a child?

(Source: Vice)


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