By: Gaétane Borders
Many people do not know that there are special laws that apply only on Halloween night? States like Missouri, Illinois, Maryland, and Louisiana have all implemented various rules and regulations specifically for Halloween night. These laws are designed to make parents feel safer by restricting the activities of convicted sex offenders. However, they are not without controversy.
Most Halloween laws mandate that convicted sex offenders stay in their house on Halloween night, and prohibits them from answering the door to trick or treaters. Other states may require sex offenders to post a sign on their door indicating that candy will not be handed out at that residence. In Maryland, state officials created a stir when the signs that they distributed to sex offenders were pumpkin-shaped and bright orange.
Regardless of whether your state has opted to implement a variation of this law, next Sunday is the day when little goblins, pirates, Cinderellas, and otherwise disguised children will go door to door on the hunt for the best candies. Parents need to know that it is not all fun and games because there are dangers of which to be aware. As parents and concerned citizens, we cannot sit back and assume that the authorities will closely monitor the activities of these criminals. Instead, there are specific things that we can do to help prevent tragedies. I encourage all parents to do the following:
- Visit websites like www.familywatchdog.us to see how many pedophiles live in your community. Make it a point to review where the offenders in your community live so that you can be sure to avoid their residence. (You’d be surprised how many offenders may live in your community! I plugged my address in this morning and found that a couple new individuals had moved into my small town. The sad thing is that this map only shows the registered offenders.)
- Make certain that a responsible adult accompanies any child under the age of 12.
- Children should also understand that a parent must review all the candy received before they eat it.
- Teens who choose to trick-or-treat must go in groups, and need to know not to enter anyone’s home or car in anticipation of candy.
If you find that your immediate community is not safe or conducive to trick or treating, you may opt to drive to another neighborhood. However, please note that young kids in particular also get a kick out of getting dressed up and scavenger hunting in their own home. In addition, many churches, malls and businesses schedule Halloween activities where they hand out prizes and sweets as well. There are, indeed, many options available. Pick the one that’s best for you, and most importantly….be safe!
Gaetane Borders is the President of Peas in Their Pods, and organization which brings awareness to missing children who are often not eligible for an Amber Alert or who have simply "fallen through the cracks."