This is a preemptive strike against the annual Halloweenphobia that is about to rear its ugly (non-masked) head. While the retail chains have been stockpiling orange and black merchandise the populace rumblings have begun to stir. It seems that every year yet a new way to safeguard children from self-directed Halloween fun is unearthed. First, trick-or-treating became chaperoned, then there were the full blown bans on trick-or-treating, with tragically depressing “parties” in their place, then costumes at school were banned (I ask you, how is a person supposed to trick-or-treat on their way home from school?!,) recently there was no trick-or-treating on Sundays (is that a Lent thing?) and my all-time, number 10 on the insanity Richter scale: Halloween pedophile alerts. I’m no criminologist, but I’m just gonna throw this out there: really?! Do people think the “strangers with candy” thing is Halloween on steroids? ( A) children trick-or-treat with friends, not alone B) pedophiles prey on the vulnerable and the heinous crime involves befriending C) stop watching so much SVU.
What is so ridiculously ironic about the Halloween bogeyman paranoia (on a holiday that celebrates the bogeyman) is that the same adults who are wrapping their sainted cherubs in bubble wrap are dressing like working girls (or like children if they’re men) and drinking in excess. But I digress.
Halloween is a wonderful adventure and learning opportunity for children. Weeks are spent creating costumes and organizing trick-or-treating gangs and routes. Navigational skills are utilized while mapping out the greatest candy-per-footstep ratio. Learning to speak to adults (who, gasp, are strangers) is intimidating but a necessary skill. There’s nothing quite as awkward as that first “Trick-or Treat” of the evening. For all of you now shaking your head with smugness and muttering; “she just doesn’t get it.” I assure you I do. Learning to be confident and assertive with adult (strangers) is the BEST way to safeguard a child from victimization, be it peer-to-peer bullying or the unthinkable.
As far as candy tampering (rare as it is) no candy is eaten until the little goblins arrive home. Loose candy, apples and baked goods must be tossed, if the giver is not a family friend. We live in a world of terrifyingly real foodborne illness, manufacturer’s tainting, and flawed engineering of safety products. We don’t spend our lives in fear of these hazards, or in fear of asteroids for that matter. I don’t think we need to create some Willy Wonka’s evil twin fantasy and destroy a wonderful beneficial holiday designed for children.