This is an encore presentation from a blog first written on Halloween in 2008.
The costumed children run in bunches. Dressed as Luke Skywalker, soldiers and princesses they ring the doorbell and shout out Trick or Treat. The younger the children are the more likely a parent is walking the street nearby. The older middle school or high school age kids prefer their parents stay home. Lights are on families answering the doors are friendly. There is a light hearted feeling of community and fun. It's a scene repeated over and over across the country. So why is it the fight against sex offenders gets all the media attention on this night?
Let me explicitly state from the beginning this is not a defense of sex offenders. But it is criticism of law enforcement and media unnecessarily raising the level of fear and anxiety among families with children. In our area we have never had documented cases of sexual predators attacking children while disguised with a Halloween costume. Thankfully, we have not had examples of children being lured into a stranger's home with candy to be abducted or harmed.
Sampling of research and reporting about unfounded connection between predatory criminals and Halloween.
Not only have we not had examples of that anywhere near us, but I'm hard pressed to find any cases in the entire country of Halloween creating an opportunity for a sex offender to prey on children. I found one example of an unregistered sex offender in Wisconsin 35 years ago harming a child. There may be another in Pennsylvania more than 16 years ago. Details are difficult to find even in this age of the internet.
Yet the internet does show us television stations, web sites and newspapers across the country reporting on law enforcement cracking down on the movements of sex offenders on this night. Missouri is currently dealing with a legal battle over what restrictions are allowed to be placed on sex offenders on Halloween. The courts are involved the discussion is intense.
Expending the resources on sex offender patrol to protect the public on Halloween in particular seems as foolish as vaccinating for the avian flu when it hasn't appeared in our country. We create fear of trouble where trouble hasn't existed. You have to go back a generation to find any cases of people sticking metal in candy or lacing treats with something that could make you sick. Yet we still scan candy and have community centers set up to examine it.
I'll bet next year if no candy was scanned and no alerts about sexual predators were issued we all just might enjoy Halloween a little more. We should be putting emphasis on the treats more than the tricks. That's what all those adorable children dressed in costume deserve.
Any questions or comment please forward them to mattsmemo@CNYcentral.com . I may even use some of your thoughts on NBC 3 News at 5:00, the 10:00 News on CW6 or on CNYcentral.com.
The opinions expressed in this blog are the sole responsibility of the author and are not reflective of the views or opinons of the station or Barrington Broadcasting.