Parents' Fear of Halloween Is the Scariest Thing of All

CC BY 2.0. Serena Snowfield

Can we please stop bubble-wrapping our kids on their single, most glorious day of independence? Parents are stressing about the wrong things.

Halloween is supposed to be the greatest kiddie independence day out of the entire year. They get to dress up, wander around town in the dark, and collect unlimited candy from strangers’ doors. It doesn’t get more awesome than that. And yet, adults are determined to ruin it for kids with their suffocating paranoia and baseless fears, clearly forgetting what glorious fun they had as kids on Halloween, long before parental intervention saturated every aspect of childhood.

Parents, you seriously need to take a step back and realize a few basic facts before tonight’s fun begins.

No. 1: Nobody is trying your poison your kids.

Nobody. In fact, if you’ve ever heard of a child who was purposely poisoned by a stranger’s candy on Halloween, please get in touch with Prof. Joel Best from the University of Delaware. He’s been studying this subject since 1985 and has yet to find a single instance of this persistent myth.

There is one awful story of an 8-year-old boy named Timothy O’Bryan who died on Halloween from a poisoned pixy stick in 1974, but it turned out to be his father who had filled it with cyanide after taking out an insurance policy on his son’s life. The father was executed, but this notorious “Candy Man,” in a way, killed Halloween.

Nor will letting them gorge on candy loot poison them. Let them be kings and queens of their own treat bag for a day, at least. Then do what you want.

No. 2: Nobody is trying to molest your kids.

There is no evidence that sex offenders attack trick-or-treaters on Halloween, so you can stop poring over your local map of sex offenders’ homes. As for the laws put in place throughout the United States to protect children from plotting attackers, these serve no real purpose. Lenore Skenazy of the Free Range Kids blog writes:

“The laws requiring sex offenders not to answer their doors on Halloween, and/or to turn off all lights, or to spend the evening in the custody of law enforcement — none have had any effect, because they are preventing a crime that wasn’t happening in the first place.”

No. 3: Why would anybody waste drugs on your kid?

Let’s be realistic. Drugs are expensive – way, way more expensive than candy. Why would somebody who enjoys their drugs waste them on a kid? As for malicious reasons, there is one sad story of a young boy who died from heroin in 1970, but Gizmodo explains that he got into his uncle’s stash and the family tried to make it look like he’d been poisoned by Halloween candy.

No. 4: Nobody is trying to stab your kid with pins, nor will a fake sword stab them.

Almost all instances of razor blades and pins found in Halloween candy are attributable to friends and family members, so statistically it would make more sense to stay away from the homes of people you know! Only in 2000 was there a report of this actually happening, when a Florida man stuck needles into Snickers bars; it pricked a teenager but did not require medical attention. Another report of metal shavings in bars was linked to Chinese factory production and deemed accidental.

Nor will your child die from falling onto a fake butcher knife or samurai sword. Come on! Skenazy writes:

The Web site recommends that if your child is carrying a fake butcher knife, you should make sure the tip is 'smooth and flexible enough to not cause injury if fallen upon.' Excuse me? Has anyone ever seen a knife land blade-side up? And then fallen on it? Meantime, schools across the country are sending this note home to parents: 'Please, no scary costumes.' In England last year, a man was ordered by his landlord to take down his lawn decorations because the zombies were too 'realistic'."

No. 5: Sadly, your kid is more likely to get hit by a car than all of the above.

Awful, I know, but this needs to be put into perspective. A child is four times more likely to get hit by a car on Halloween than on any other night. The real problem, therefore, is all the parents driving their kids around, watching their kids approach strangers’ doors instead of watching the road. It’s the police officers who are busy monitoring sex offenders, rather than standing at street corners to enforce better driving. It’s the urban speed limits against which small children do not stand a chance.

I don’t think covering kids up with reflective vests is the solution, as that ruins Halloween in its own way, but do take time to review road safety prior to letting kids out. If your child is young, walk together and leave the car at home. After all, the fewer cars are on the road, the safer kids will be.