Goodbye Halloween, Hello “Safety”

Can we think up some great trick to play on  the town supervisors in quaint and quaking Bobtown, Pennsylvania, who are  OUTLAWING HALLOWEEN in order to “keep kids safe”?

Perhaps they missed Chapter 7 in the book Free-Range Kids, “Eat Chocolate! Give Halloween Back to the Trick-or-Treaters.” Allow me to quote myself a little bit:

Was there ever really a rash of candy killings? Joel Best, a professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware, took it upon himself to find out. He studied crime reports from Halloween dating back as far as 1958, and guess exactly how many kids he found poisoned by a stranger’s candy?

A hundred and five? A dozen? Well, one, at least?

“The bottom line is that I cannot find any evidence that any child has ever been killed or seriously hurt by a contaminated treat picked up in the course of trick-or-treating,” says the professor. The fear is completely unfounded.

Now, one time, in 1974, a Texas dad did kill his own son with a poisoned Pixie Stix. “He had taken out an insurance policy on his son’s life shortly before Halloween, and I think he probably did this on the theory that there were so many poison candy deaths, no one would ever suspect him,” says Best. “In fact, he was very quickly tried and put to death long ago.” That’s Texas for you.

Best added that at one time another child was poisoned by accidentally ingesting his uncle’s stash of heroin and the family tried to pass it off as a stranger poisoning. But it didn’t work.

So, Bobtownians, please re-consider axe-murdering an ancient holiday in order to keep children safe from a danger that does not exist. While we applaud the notion of that communal party you want to throw, save it for a day when it does not intefere with one of childhood’s greatest joys.  Or else?

Be afraid of a force more powerful than magic. A force that likes its candy and knows how to scream.  — Lenore

109 Responses

  1. 1. They may be more concerned about teenagers causing trouble than about kids being harmed. How worthwhile a concern that is up for debate.

    2. You know, it’s weird, but even though I know the real statistics (and have for years), I still want my niecelings to examine their loot. I know for a fact that it’s a total waste of time, but examining (and also sorting at the same time) the candy seems to me to be as intrinsic a part of the holiday as dressing in costumes!

  2. Your book sounds very intriguing… Any chance of a release in Australia? We speak fluent American and have even heard of your ritual Halloween.

  3. Probably not a worthwhile concern. Teenagers get such a bad rap. Always expecting the worst of them, that they’re going to make trouble and ruin something, just gives them crappy expectations to meet.
    Yeah, they’re high-spirited… They’re TEENAGERS!! But the vast majority of them are good, kind, thoughtful people, just like the vast majority of ALL people.
    Poor kids. It’s just not fair how many people mistrust them simply because of their age.

    Yet, we pay them to watch our small children and serve our food….

  4. Is it even legal to outlaw trick-or-treating? I think there might be some constitutional issues involved, even apart from the common-sense issues.

    The real danger to trick-or-treaters (other than tooth decay) is, as usual, automobiles. But we won’t ban them.

  5. i almost lol’d at the guy in the article who was surprised by the negative reaction to halloween being banned! what did he think would happen, americans would leap for joy at having a pleasure denied so the town council could babysit them all?

  6. It took way too long to execute Ronald O’Bryan he killed his son Timmy and attempted to kill several other children (to make it look like a mass stranger poisoning) on October 31, 1974. He wasn’t excuted till March 30, 1984.

    Other than that you are correct.

  7. While married, when my son was 4, my conservative, religious spouse started reading books about Spiritual Warfare.

    It struck me as the kingpin of ridiculous non-existent threats: Evil spirits had inhabited the earliest predecessor of the Halloween dress-up-and-collect-candy tradition, the story went, and by putting on costumes, we might be inviting the spirits to inhabit our home and the kid.

    To me, being a free-range parent need not be mutually exclusive with being religious. I’ve experienced some faith communities where questioning the accepted conventional wisdom was discouraged…. as well as faith communities that welcomed critical thinking and independent decision-making, like free-rangers.

  8. I am very, very happy that I do not live in Bobtown, Pennsylvania. What a dangerous, nasty town full of horrible people that must be if going door to door is so likely to result in unspeakable crimes that it must be banned alltogether. Maybe that’s why it is such a small town.

    For you statistic diggers, I’d love to know how many kids have been abducted or harmed going door to door doing school fundraisers. That’s another one that there is always warnings about. “Make tons of money for us, but do it by having your parents beg their coworkers because we don’t want YOU to actually do the fundraising yourself”

  9. As a pagan and avid fan of Halloween (seriously, my daughter’s first costume has been planned for over a year), all I can say is

    SACRILEGE!

  10. I was waiting for the “fear of Halloween and strange’rs candy” threads to start. No trunk or treat or mall treating here. We are going door to door!! We will face the danger of those neighbors who say hi to us most days.

    I’m thinking of even letting my 10 yo trick or treat without me, if he can find another friend who’s mom will let him go with him, and not think of me as a horrible neglectful mom.

  11. I don’t really enjoy Halloween anymore now that trick or treating is usually done before dark or in the mall now. Where’s the fun in that? The people who show up after dark, at least where I live, are from Mexico and are looking for a free handout.

  12. I think part of the fun of trick-or-treating is seeing how all the houses are decorated and running around in the dark and seeing who you meet up with.

    Our kids are 6 and 8, so we still go along and supervise from the sidewalk and kind of amble around looking at all the costumes and chatting with other parents. Eventually, I plan to let them out in the neighborhood alone and hand out all the candy myself.

    A lot of the houses in our neighborhood are dark, though, as people go to participate in the HUGE trunk-or-treat at the nearby megachurch. People are saying you should go because your kids get SO much candy so quickly. Excuse me? Why would I want my kid to get a huge bag of candy? The sugar overdose is probably more dangerous for them than wandering around the neighborhood.

  13. When I was a Halloween-age kid (back in the late sixties through the mid-seventies) there were already hysterical flailings about how OMGDangerous!! Halloween was, and urban legends going around about poisoned candy. My parents, and others on my street, had a rule that we couldn’t eat any home-made candy, and I think Mom wanted to look over my candy once or twice when I got home. (One or two of the parents would usually kind of trail behind us when we went out, but there wasn’t any really close, eagle-eyed watching.)

    The obvious solution to this problem, one taken by myself and all my friends, was to eat home-made candy before we got home. There was an old lady a block or so away who made really good peanut brittle and there was no way we were going to throw it away.

    Uly — yes, sorting through the candy is an important Halloween ritual. It’s also ones the kids do themselves, not one grown-ups should be involved with. My friends and I got together afterwards with our loot to sort through, compare and brag, and trade stuff we didn’t like. Having the parents get involved or hover around while we did it would’ve been incredibly annoying.

    Angie

  14. Growing up in SE Michigan, we Trick or Treated ON Halloween, in the dark. It was awesome. That’s the way it should be! Living in SE Wisconsin, with kids of my own, Trick or Treating is done on the Sunday before Halloween from noon to 3. It’s incredibly boring. I found out the reason for that is because way back, up in Fon du Lac, WI (I think), a child was abducted and killed during night time trick or treating. But it was back in the 70’s, I believe. Anyway, we have just moved to Kentucky and are THRILLED that our kids will now get to experience Trick or Treating ON Halloween and IN THE DARK!!!! Candy-shmandy. It’s all about the ambiance!

  15. forgot to check the box for notification…

  16. @Erica,
    We’re in SW MI, and we trick-or-treat ON Halloween, in the dark. The houses are awesome, there’s this one whole street in EGR that goes all out! One dad projects the Bat Signal on his garage, and wears a Batman outfit. Dry ice, cackling things… it’s AWESOME!! It’s a great as it was when I was a kid, and I’m so thrilled that my kids got to experience it before they got too old (they were 9 and 11 when we moved here), and that this is what my grandson knows as Halloween.

    @Angie
    We go through once the kid is asleep. He’s still little. We did the same when our kids were little. They get a couple pieces, then we go through. With the grandboy, he’s too small for some things, so we just get rid of those. With our kids, we went through until they were about 5 and 7. They just sucked at trading, or dividing until that time, and there was a legendary fight over a miniature hershey’s. Once they could count and read reliably… have at it! When the big one could read and the little one couldn’t, she’d lie to him about something having nuts (neither of them liked nuts in candy) so that he ended up with ALL the snickers, mr. goodbars and almond joys, and she ended up with ALL the hersheys, milky ways, reeses and tootsie rolls. Then she wouldn’t share the hersheys. Blood was shed. Mom and Dad took over the sort.
    But it was effing hilarious at the same time. And great family lore, don’t you think?

  17. I never got to participate in Halloween due to my parents’ religious beliefs. I always missed the dressing up part (although now that I’m old enough to make up my own mind about Halloween, I don’t have any good costume ideas.)

    Unfortunately, last year, we had about 3 groups of kids come to the door. The ones that came got a lot of loot, though. (I was living with a couple of roommates, and one of them bought candy, plus my boyfriend and I bought chips and sodas.) This year, I won’t get to see any. I live in a basement suite. I’ll probably buy some candy for the girls upstairs to give out.

  18. @Chris H
    You can find Lenore’s book throughBooko.com.au, best price at the moment is just under $26 shipped.

  19. I sit in a lawn chair on my front yard and give out candy each year. (My front door is on the side of my house and because of the neighbor’s fence it looks like the front light is out from the street).

    I love it I get to see all the kids, watch the activity at the 2 haunted houses across the street.

    When I was a kid my parents went through my candy each year. They would trade anything with peanuts for candy I could eat. We would eat some homemade treats from people we knew – and we knew everyone on our block. One lady had caramel popcorn. She always made mine first so it didn’t have peanuts in it.

  20. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston wrote about three years ago on the subject of Halloween. He wrote about childhood memories and how fun it was, now he was concerned it was becoming ‘dark’. The root of the problem seems to be our paranoia. By ‘outlawing Halloween’ one is pretty much giving up on what should be a fun holiday and giving into people’s fears. I’m with Cardinal and you we need to take it back for fun.

  21. Love Halloween here! The fun for the kids is getting to wander the neighborhood after dark. Well, that and all the candy.

  22. I wish they’d pass a law against idling vehicles on Halloween. If you want to hover over your kids, fine, but get out and walk! Trust me, it’ll do you good.

    (I know, I’m preaching to the converted)

  23. Can’t WAIT for Halloween! Our neighborhood is loaded with trick-or-treaters, a bunch of moms come sit in my driveway and we hand out candy, and we end the night with a fire in the firepit and smores! I even have a child with nut allergies who’s still allowed to go out and have FUN (we trade out the candy after the night is done for treats he can have, but don’t tell anyone, because I’ll probably be considered a BAD mom!)

    To the Bobtowners – I’m sorry you have such jerks running your town, and would recommend that all those of you who are feeling like you’re living in a police state remember that feeling at the polls (better yet, organize a recall!!!). When did Halloween get to be a municipal decision anyway? We live in America, land of the FREE; if I want to celebrate Halloween, who the H#(( has the right to stop me?!?

  24. My mom always insisted on going through my candy after trick-or-treating–which, for as long as I can remember, was usually done completely unattended by parents, unless we wanted to hit some of the nearby housing developments and needed a ride–but I suspect that it was more because 1) she felt obligated to check just in case someone had really loaded that apple with razor blades or the Snickers with needles, not because she was actually afraid of such a thing happening, and 2) because she wanted first dibs on my Milky Ways and Reese’s Cups. (I always got robbed on Halloween and Easter. LOL)

    Sadly, we live along a busy street with no sidewalks and few residential neighbors, so we’ll have to shuttle our daughter around in order for her to go trick-or-treating. But believe me, when she’s old enough to tag along with friends, I will send her off with my blessings to go and collect all of the loot she can get.

    After which I will probably insist on checking her stash for “tainted” Twix, Snickers and SweetTarts before she digs in…just in case. (Thanks for the idea, Mom.) :o)

  25. Gramomster — if five-year-olds are getting into fights, or are being egregiously cheated by older siblings, that’s another issue; I’ll agree with you there that some parental involvement is valid until the kids are old enough to stick up for themselves. Ditto with allergies. [nod]

    Angie

  26. This is sort of a sidebar, but it seems lots of respondents had parents who groomed through candy for nuts. I live in rural canada, but I’ve met a person with nut allergies once in my life. I’m wondering if it is more prevailent in the US? Just a google search told me that :
    MILWAUKEE, WI — April 12, 1999 — Researchers from New York, Virginia and Arkansas report in this month’s issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology that peanut and/or tree nut (such as walnut, almond and cashew) allergy affects about three million Americans or 1.1 percent of the population.

    Is the 1.1% of nut allergic people all responding on this blog?🙂

  27. […] about whyGourmetwill fold this month after 68 glorious years at the top of America’s …Goodbye Halloween, Hello “Safety” « FreeRangeKidslskenazy says: “He had taken out an insurance policy on his son’s life shortly […]

  28. […] about whyGourmetwill fold this month after 68 glorious years at the top of America’s …Goodbye Halloween, Hello “Safety” « FreeRangeKidslskenazy says: “He had taken out an insurance policy on his son’s life shortly […]

  29. […] Halloween is around the corner. The town of Bobtown, PA has banned it because they are crazy, overprotective and irrational. […]

  30. […] Goodbye Halloween, Hello “Safety” […]

  31. @Ghost
    I’ve never met someone with a severe nut allergy either. When my kids were little, they just didn’t like them. Now it’s a much different story! I read some recent research that suggests in cultures where pregnant women don’t have restrictions on what they should eat, and the diets are high in peanuts/other nuts, the allergies are almost non-existent. This is leading some doctors to rethink how they advise pregnant women to eat, and feed very young kids.

  32. […] started Wednesday morning, when city event coordinator Martha Cohen tried to find out what …Goodbye Halloween, Hello “Safety” « FreeRangeKidslskenazy says: “He had taken out an insurance policy on his son’s life shortly […]

  33. […] started Wednesday morning, when city event coordinator Martha Cohen tried to find out what …Goodbye Halloween, Hello “Safety” « FreeRangeKidslskenazy says: “He had taken out an insurance policy on his son’s life shortly […]

  34. […] Joel Best, a professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware.  Read more here.  (Via Boing […]

  35. […] Goodbye Halloween, Hello “Safety” « FreeRangeKids. Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) ( subscribe to comments on […]

  36. Ridiculous. Why are adults such spoil-sports, all in the name of SAFETY?

    As far as allergies go…something related: A few years ago my 2nd-grade daughter had an orthodontic appliance that prevented her from eating candy with nuts (and caramel). She traded candy with her brother. Maybe those parents who are worried about allergies can buy a replacement bag of candy, and trade out candy for their kids. Or, better yet, DONATE the allergen candies to a food bank.

  37. I saw this article the other day, and was horrified! I think of Halloween as a community-building holiday: unlike most holidays which are spent with family, Halloween is a night to walk around and meet the neighbors. I’m so glad we live in a town that hasn’t tried to “schedule” trick-or-treating. I do go with my daughter (7 yrs old), but it’s mostly for the fun of it than for “safety” – most parents seem to be out with kids, and it’s nice to get everyone together. I expect that within a couple of years she’ll want to go without me. I don’t inspect her candy, unless inspecting it for the things that I like counts!

  38. This is so sad and I have to agree that it can’t possibly be legal. Can It? Any lawyers out there who can weigh in?

  39. […] started Wednesday morning, when city event coordinator Martha Cohen tried to find out what …Goodbye Halloween, Hello “Safety” « FreeRangeKidslskenazy says: “He had taken out an insurance policy on his son’s life shortly […]

  40. Oh those poor children! How horrendous. Mae, Mae is right. This can’t be legal. Halloween is one of the best childhood memories I have. It should be a holiday on the calendar where school is canceled, moms and dads get the day off work and stores close early.

    Light bulb! Free Range could sponsor a charter bus to roll into that PA town, get those deprived children and we can each adopt one to bring back home to trick or treat freely in our neighborhoods! Safely returned to their families afterwards, of course.

    Our children’s school does not acknowledge Halloween. It is a travesty. It is the individual school principal’s choice. While every other school around them celebrates it, our kids are banished from wearing any costumes etc etc. Public school at that. I am guessing one rotten parent complained that it offended them, so hey, let’s punish the remaining 99% of families. Or maybe its a “safety” issue.

    Happy Halloween to all and to all a good night!!! We should all send emails to this town’s council stating how outrageous this is. Maybe they will change their tune!

  41. Michele — I am guessing one rotten parent complained that it offended them, so hey, let’s punish the remaining 99% of families.

    Back in the late 80s, the company I worked for had adopted a local elementary school, so I volunteered there at various times. That particular school had sent home a note saying that kids couldn’t come to school dressed as witches, ghosts, goblins, etc., because it offended some people. 😛 Of course, they helpfully suggested that kids could go out trick-or-treating wearing whatever they liked; it was only at school that they had to wear a non-supernatural costume.

    Right. So the parents had to buy or make their kid two costumes that year, if the kid wanted to be a devil or something? Wow, that’ll fix everything! [facepalm]

    Same thing, though, where a tiny minority get to dictate what everyone else does, when what banned activity doesn’t hurt anyone. Hey, maybe we can prevent any of the kids from dressing up as Will Smith or Bruce Lee because the racists would be offended…? :/

    Angie

  42. While I believe that outlawing Halloween is silly and misguided, the premise of this article is demonstrably wrong – i.e. that there have never been any injuries due to doctored candy. The cases may not of come up in a statistical search, but they exist.

    My ex-wife, for one, got a razor-apple when she was a child, and has the scars in her mouth as a life-long reminder that caution isn’t a bad thing.

    Let the kids enjoy the festivities, check the candy, and indulge responsibly.

  43. The Anglican Church allows for a ‘suitable festival’ on the Eve of All Hallows, consisting of readings concerning The Witch of Endor, The Valley of Dry Bones, and The War in Heaven, to be held, if possible, in a graveyard.
    Historically, AFAIK, Halloween exists because of a glitch in the Celtic calendar. The calendar year ended with the last sheaf harvested in the King’s fields. The calendar year started with All Hallows. In between there might be an interval of anything from one night to a week, that belonged to no year, month, or day. Civil suits were hard to press. As were criminal ones. The whole idea of Time itself seemed insubstantial: if there was no Time then, wouldn’t you be able to go to places, see things, talk to people that were no more? People stayed home and put out lighted apples. If you did go out, you did so masked, and at your peril. To keep unruly Irish teenagers from setting the whole country afire in the 1930’s, the Boy Scouts invented “trick or treat”, the idea that you were to walk from house to house, doing skits or sleight of hand, in exchange for candy or small gifts. In the ’60’s UNICEF made it an opportunity to collect for charity.
    To me, the whole idea was to go out in costume, talk to neighbors and people I wouldn’t otherwise know, and get more candy than I could carry home, much less eat. I’d get ‘chocolate colic’ the next day, swear off all sweets, and forget two days later, come the afternoon drugstore raid!

  44. […] started Wednesday morning, when city event coordinator Martha Cohen tried to find out what …Goodbye Halloween, Hello “Safety” « FreeRangeKidslskenazy says: “He had taken out an insurance policy on his son’s life shortly […]

  45. I was not able to celebrate Halloween as a child. My parents kept us home from school on the day of the parties. They never expected the school to change for one family. Luckily, my parents later researched Halloween and began to let us celebrate it. We absloutely loved it.

    My daughter’s school was not allowed to celebrate Christmas because there was one Jehovah’s Witness student attending. I think maybe offering a seperate activity or advising the parents what was going on that day so they could choose whether or not their child participated would have been more in order than forcing all the other students to ignore a major holiday. I am not saying we should be intolerant of others beliefs but there needs to be some compromise not just canceling the whole thing due to a few kids.

  46. Mae Mae — exactly. [nod] There are much better ways of accommodating people who object, especially when it’s not an official part of the curriculum, than depriving everyone else of something they (and their parents) think is harmless and fun.

    Angie

  47. Mae Mae and Angie-

    I agree. Mae Mae, your parents were at least considerate enough to not disrupt the entire school because of them…..if a family is so offended by celebrating Halloween they either need to keep their children home that day or not send them to PUBLIC schools to begin with.

    It is infuriating when a tiny minority get to dictate what the overwhelming majority does. Grrrrrr. Isn’t democracy what America was founded on? Double grrrrrrr.

  48. Our children’s school does not acknowledge Halloween. It is a travesty. It is the individual school principal’s choice. While every other school around them celebrates it, our kids are banished from wearing any costumes etc etc. Public school at that. I am guessing one rotten parent complained that it offended them, so hey, let’s punish the remaining 99% of families. Or maybe its a “safety” issue.

    My nieces’ school has uniforms, so they – LOL – they make the kids come to school in uniform and then change into their costumes after lunch! I thought this was stupid last year, and I still think it’s stupid this year. I have no idea how long they think they can keep this scheme up.

  49. I’m not as old as dirt, but almost. Halloween is now regarded as an aberration. This of course is because of increasing ‘progressive’ teachings and influence each year.

    In case you haven’t been paying attention, these same progressive teachings have been influencing our high schools and universities for the last forty some odd years.

    There have been some great comments here. I apologize if I have missed a few in my review and response below. Just let it be known to all here that I have upmost confidence in the average American to know right from wrong and freedom from slavery.

    OK…first

    “To the Bobtowners – I’m sorry you have such jerks running your town, and would recommend that all those of you who are feeling like you’re living in a police state remember that feeling at the polls (better yet, organize a recall!!!). When did Halloween get to be a municipal decision anyway? We live in America, land of the FREE; if I want to celebrate Halloween, who the H#(( has the right to stop me?!?”

    This person speaks not only for me but millions upon millions of other Americans. But to over throw this oppression and progressive idiocy, we need to do as suggested. Get out and get your friends out to the polls!!
    Vote and make your voice and opinion heard. Yes, there will be rampant voter fraud. But then, you must make sure that your state not only investigates, but prosecutes that fraud and holds new elections and run offs.

    I love it I get to see all the kids, watch the activity at the 2 haunted houses across the street.

    Yes…!! Haunted Houses are the best. I have helped build several over the years. Most were cheap knock-offs but a few really had a lot of money invested and a lot of time and imagination that resulted in something that the kids really enjoyed and made each year more enjoyable for everyone.

    It was a street community and effort that brought us all together and contributed to not only our feelings of solidarity against those outside of us, but to our security and day to day happiness.

    I’ve never met someone with a severe nut allergy either. When my kids were little, they just didn’t like them. Now it’s a much different story! I read some recent research that suggests in cultures where pregnant women don’t have restrictions on what they should eat, and the diets are high in peanuts/other nuts, the allergies are almost non-existent. This is leading some doctors to rethink how they advise pregnant women to eat, and feed very young kids.

    I have also researched this. Eating nuts while pregnant seems to be true from the latest research. I have always gone by my grandmothers advice. Which is:
    ” Give the kids a little peanut butter on a spoon a few times a week until they are able to eat it on toast with a little jelly.”
    I have done this with my kids and all of my grandkids and never had a problem. If there is going to be a reaction or allergy, you will be able to overcome it or stop it – if it can’t be corrected..

    This is so sad and I have to agree that it can’t possibly be legal. Can It? Any lawyers out there who can weigh in?

    Most likely it isn’t legal, but who can afford to try and contest it. Do you have the money to buck the ACLU or others? Well if you do, you should…for the rest of us.

    Our children’s school does not acknowledge Halloween. It is a travesty. It is the individual school principal’s choice. While every other school around them celebrates it, our kids are banished from wearing any costumes etc etc. Public school at that. I am guessing one rotten parent complained that it offended them, so hey, let’s punish the remaining 99% of families. Or maybe its a “safety” issue.

    The only way to fight this is through direct action. Call all the parents, have a meeting or phone conference calls, get a petition going, and if you have the money, hire a lawyer. You can’t let your freedoms be taken away. Not even one by one.

    Same thing, though, where a tiny minority get to dictate what everyone else does, when what banned activity doesn’t hurt anyone. Hey, maybe we can prevent any of the kids from dressing up as Will Smith or Bruce Lee because the racists would be offended…?

    That is what progressive, liberal people and actions have accomplished over the last fifty years. If you want to change it, you have to stop being the silent majority and be vocal and active in your community and in your Republic’s fight for freedom from the takeover of those that do not hold our Founder’s beliefs but those who hate and wish America’s demise.

    “To me, the whole idea was to go out in costume, talk to neighbors and people I wouldn’t otherwise know, and get more candy than I could carry home, much less eat. I’d get ‘chocolate colic’ the next day, swear off all sweets, and forget two days later, come the afternoon drugstore raid!

    Yes, that is called being a part of the community, being friends and neighbors in the true sense of the word. It is said that the best neighbor is one who will help you without judging you. Please do the same in return.

    America is made up of many different people, from different lands. But the underlying reason that America has become the greatest Nation in the world is because once here, those same people have taken the oath and become
    “Americans”. Citizens of a nation that holds Freedom, Liberty and Justice for all.

    Something that can not be found anywhere else in this world.

    Papa Ray
    Central (used to be West) Texas

  50. […] canceled Trick-or-Treating this year, for safety reasons. Lenore Skenazy of "Free Range Kids" is up in arms about the cancellation, pointing out that since 1958, no child has ever been poisoned or hurt or killed by candy picked up […]

  51. Papa Ray — umm, we’re pretty clearly on the same side about this one issue, but I have to point out that 1) I’m pretty firmly liberal myself, and 2) when folks are banning witch, ghost and goblin costumes at school, it’s the (religious) conservatives doing it, not the liberals.

    And I think it’s been made clear here on this blog over and over that the more general, “OMG Save The Children!!!!” hysteria, with accompanying ignorance and overreaction, comes from all parts of the political spectrum, not just from whichever chunk of society you or anyone else happens to disagree with.

    Angie

  52. Yeah, when I was a kid, we could trick or treat anywhere we could walk (we lived in a burb). My parents checked candy but pretty much to snag what THEY wanted : )

    I love my city because our kids trick or treat ON Halloween, whenever it is, between 5 and 7 – so the littlers can go in daylight and the olders later. And both neighborhoods I have lived in turned the holiday into a giant party – adults walking around with their kids, chatting, sometimes “adult” beverages provided, parties before/after – and the church on the corner has the best after-party complete with spooky stories and bell-ringing and creepy organ music. Tons of people decorate their houses; some go all out and dress up too. Its great fun. My ONLY complaint about Halloween is that my children always want to be some esoteric character (this year it’s Pokemon characters) and I have to conjure up costumes out of the craft box and dressing up pile – no store bought easy costumes for me : )

  53. […] started Wednesday morning, when city event coordinator Martha Cohen tried to find out what …Goodbye Halloween, Hello “Safety” « FreeRangeKidslskenazy says: “He had taken out an insurance policy on his son’s life shortly […]

  54. Wow, Papa Ray, that manages to be incredibly offensive AND wrong in so many respects.

    Let’s start with the ACLU first. There’s no evidence that the ACLU is in any way involved in this decision. (In fact, the ACLU does a lot of work protecting the rights of Christians and conservatives: http://www.aclu.org/religion/26526res20060824.html I’m sure that’s where you were ultimately going to go with that.)

    Then we go on to:

    The only way to fight this is through direct action. Call all the parents, have a meeting or phone conference calls, get a petition going, and if you have the money, hire a lawyer. You can’t let your freedoms be taken away. Not even one by one.

    While I think this is an absurd decision, I don’t think anybody could reasonably say that celebrating Halloween by trick or treating is a freedom unless it’s a religious thing… hm…. Point is, when you use overblown rhetoric like this you just make yourself look silly. Let’s move on.

    That is what progressive, liberal people and actions have accomplished over the last fifty years. If you want to change it, you have to stop being the silent majority and be vocal and active in your community and in your Republic’s fight for freedom from the takeover of those that do not hold our Founder’s beliefs but those who hate and wish America’s demise.

    I’m a progressive liberal, and I think this decision was absurd. Many of the people posting here are progressive liberals, no doubt they also think this is absurd. Progressive liberals aren’t a minority in this country – we’re probably about half the population, same as you all. But we, unlike you, don’t go spouting rude and false statements about how you hate this country and wish its demise. Why would you even say something so patently untrue and stupid?

    And then you follow up by saying that nobody else in the world has freedom, liberty, or justice. This is so absurd as to be saddening. Belgium? Has freedom, liberty, and justice. Greece? Has freedom, liberty, and justice. Japan? Has freedom, liberty, and justice, although I’m not on with their search and seizure laws. Canada? Has freedom, liberty, and justice. Australia? Has freedom, liberty, and justice. What on EARTH are you smoking that you think these things are really limited to the US?

    As for all that “greatest nation in the world” stuff, come off it. Everybody is taught in school that their own country is the greatest nation in the world. They’re taught that in podunk places like Luxembourg* just the same as in the great state of Texas (where all students are required to learn the Bible in school, even if it’s not their own holy book. That doesn’t sound much like liberty OR freedom to me, and let’s not get into which edition is being taught or how it’s being understood). Saying it, even in bold, doesn’t make it true. It just makes you sound jingoistic and closed-minded – and it’s completely irrelevant to the topic at hand anyway.

    *Tschusa, Je suis désolée, Es tut mir furchtbar leid. Yes, I babelfished this.

  55. I went to a Catholic high school in the late nineties. Halloween was a big deal. One of my teachers regularly dressed up as a wizard; the director of discipline preferred self-parody in the form of a devil’s costume; one time, I came as a character from the Inferno. Nobody said a word, other than a compliment. In truly scandalous fashion, some of the male teachers would dress in our schoolgirl uniforms. At a public school today, this would probably get them fired, but everyone had the sense to know it was just a joke (and a funny one, too) and the administration didn’t take themselves very seriously.

    I’m tired of “I’m offended” as a reproach to other people’s activities. And lest you think it’s just a way to ruin things like Halloween and bake sales, when I was out protesting against Prop. 8 in California last fall and talked with its supporters, this was by far the most common reason given for opposing an important civil right: “my child might encounter people who practice this lifestyle and get offended.” Well, tough. I find fundamentalist forms of Christianity deeply offensive and silly–but I know that other people have the right to practice them. The proper response to some lifestyle that offends you is to go about your own business and not pay any attention to it, not to insist that it disappear. We all need to grow up.

  56. Well, it didn’t take but a few seconds for the liberal, progressives to come out defending themsleves against the indefensible.

    You only have to read their comments to know how much they can’t handle the truth or want to twist it around to meet their beliefs.

    But hey, that is what freedom is all about. Let them try and defend and justify what this Republic has become.

    Just a little investigation will revel the truth.

    Discussions such as this will not only bring out the truth but will cause people to think and to investigate those that represent them in our Congress.

    Remember that our Republic was founded on a Representative Government, A Republic, NOT a Democracy.

    There is a big difference. Yet as the years go by, many if not most don’t understand that difference.

    That is because of the brainwashing from our liberal educational system. It is impossible for those exposed and submerged in it to see that their perception and values have been not only eroded but subverted.

  57. You know, I thought he was serious at first but this has got to be a troll. Just ignore him and when he can’t get his kicks stirring us up anymore, he’ll go find someone else to poke with his stick.

    Angie

  58. Angie, I must concur. And I’m in the mood for a *serious* flamewar right now, too, but I hold it as my highest rule to NEVER feed the trolls. (Unless I’m bored.)

  59. Have a mirror Papa Ray?

  60. Uly, I attended public schools in Texas and we were never taught the Bible or anything “religious” in school. We were allowed to pray around the flagpole once a year but you had a choice whether to participate or not.

  61. “As for all that “greatest nation in the world” stuff, come off it. Everybody is taught in school that their own country is the greatest nation in the world. They’re taught that in podunk places like Luxembourg* just the same as in the great state of Texas (where all students are required to learn the Bible in school, even if it’s not their own holy book.(the preceding is a lie …That doesn’t sound much like liberty OR freedom to me, and let’s not get into which edition is being taught or how it’s being understood). Saying it, even in bold, doesn’t make it true. It just makes you sound jingoistic and closed-minded – and it’s completely irrelevant to the topic at hand anyway.”

    No, not irrelevant to the topic, but actually demonstrates how people that are deluded like you (or you could call them brainwashed) can’t realize that they are in fact deluded and brainwashed. And…since you can never convince them of same, they are forever cursed in never finding out the truth. Which in the end is better because they never understand how they have been led astray, and never feel remorse nor guilt.

    Look no further to see the demise of our Republic than this person, who typifies almost fifty percent of our voters.

    Cry now, but repel and denounce these so called “citizens” of our great Republic, for they are the true enemies of same, even if they not know it, nor feel remorse or guilt.

  62. Thanks, Uly. I hadn’t seen that before. The wording, at least in the article, is kind of vague. It doesn’t sound like they will be giving a full Religious Ed. class or anything. This sounds to me like it could be interpreted to have elective classes on this rather than required classes. Or to have some kind of seminar or something. It will be interesting to see how the schools enforce it and the reaction of the public to it. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it.

    BTW-I do happen to think we live in the greatest nation on Earth and I’m not afraid to say it! Of course, the beauty of this nation is you don’t have to agree with me…

  63. OH, forgot to comment on this terrible new regulation in Texas where every child must be taught the bible. Which is what liberal progressives who don’t believe in any kind of religon (well, maybe they believe that ISLAM should not be restricted nor outlawed, but only because they think it is the “Religion of Peace”.

    Anyway…let us read a little about this:

    The Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1287-Section 4 in 2007, that mandates all Texas public schools offer instruction in the literature and history of the Bible. The legislation must be implemented in the 2009-2010 school year.

    Many protections were put in the law to ensure that the instruction would be “objective, not from a particular point of view, and would neither promote nor disparage any religion.” Other protections include mandated teacher training, state-approved training materials and standards deemed constitutional by the Texas Attorney General.

    Dang, to be politically correct, such religious freedoms should not extend to Christianity, but only to Islamic beliefs. Oh, while we are at it, lets not only teach Islam to our kids, but give them all of their demands of the Islamic religion. Such as private areas in our schools to pray (five times a day) and private areas to read their holy book the Koran. Plus special facilities in the schools to wash their FEET at any time they deem necessary.

    OH…almost forgot, the University regulations that forbid any negative comments or writings about Islam.

    But you can say whatever you want about other religions.

    Just remember, if you say nothing about the preceeding crimes against freedom, you will deserve whatever happens to you and yours.

    Papa Ray

  64. Yeah, MaeMae, the trouble isn’t so much with the law as it’s written… exactly… as with how it’s gonna be enforced.

    And you’re certainly allowed to think this is a great and wonderful nation, etc. But that’s definitely a SUBjective view, not an OBjective one… and you’re not going around trying to imply other people aren’t really citizens or just randomly being obnoxious.

  65. You know, I thought he was serious at first but this has got to be a troll.

    Really. Are you speaking to me? If so, just what is it that you don’t agree with or don’t understand?

    Tell us. Expound on it, spell it out. Give us your opinion and feelings. Instead of just off handed remarks that actually dismiss no one but yourself.

    Papa Ray

  66. I’ve seen a few different versions of the TX law. It’s not clear that it’s a requirement, or that it be a separate course. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/08/i_look_forward_to_the_new_gene.php

    I read another one that said that schools were only required to offer the elective if at least 5 students requested it.

  67. Sounds like there’s some confusion there, then, Rich. I’d do more reading, but I don’t live in Texas so I don’t much care😛 My daddy must be spinning in his grave, but he always had a thing about organized religion.

  68. Aside from the general sillyness of cancelling trick-or-treating…

    “He says there’s been a lot of break-ins lately and that older people in Bobtown were scared.”

    Perhaps someone could send Mr. Pritchard (and the scared old people in Dunkard) a copy of Jane Jacobs’ “Death and Life of Great American Cities” so they can learn about her “eyes on the street” concept. Trick-or-Treat night in Dunkard is probably the safest night of the year. Maybe the problem is that they only do it once a year.

  69. Ok, a little bit of Troll food:

    Ray, please explain to me how you know that YOU are not the one deluded (or you could call it brainwashed) and can’t realize that they are in fact deluded and brainwashed. And…since we can never convince you of same, you are forever cursed in never finding out the truth.

    One of us is obviously brainwashed and will never be convinced of the truth. So why don’t we drop it and do something useful like agree that banning Halloween is dumb.

    Now please excuse me while go figure out how I can destroy Baseball and Apple Pie.

  70. You know what the best way to destroy apple pie is? Combine it with pumpkin pie! Mmm, best pie I’ve ever made – a layer of apples topped with a layer of pumpkin filling and crumb topping over it all.

  71. […] for all the naysayers out there, this is from the book Free Range Kids, by Lenore Skenazy: Was there ever really a rash of candy killings? Joel Best, a professor of sociology and criminal […]

  72. So anyway…

    Just want to drop a note saying this family does the whole after-dark trick or treating thing, AND this year I think I’m going to be making homemade treats for the trick or treaters. If they’re parents / caregivers are too spooked to let the kids eat them, so be it. But I’m thinking most kids will love them.

    I’m not sure what I’m going to make – either homemade marshmallows or homemade gummi worms… Hmmm….

  73. I have to say, I never really thought of Halloween the way one person has mentioned it — a community-building holiday. Thinking on it a little, I agree with that sentiment. I think the only other time I see that many people out like that is when the power goes out for an extended period of time.

    While my family didn’t care one way or the other about Halloween, a couple of the churches I went to, growing up, didn’t agree with Halloween, so they’d do a “Halloween alternative” party for the kids. It was a neat way to support the kids’ desire to do something on Halloween, but also stick with their beliefs.

    What I didn’t agree with, though, were the videos one of the churches always played in the weeks leading up to Halloween. The videos would insist that there were “true evils” to Halloween and that cults would sacrifice newborns (despite the fact that there has been no evidence of modern human sacrifice in America). They even had a speaker (who I guess was the pastor’s brother’s wife or something like that) who insisted that she grew up in a “witch coven” and has since been disowned by her family for converting to Christian after she managed to “get out of the abuses of her family.” And were, in general, spreading lies about the holiday and the beliefs that legitimately do stem from it.

    For example, jack-o-lanterns served pretty much the same purpose as gargoyles — to scare away evil spirits. The dressing up in costume was also to scare away spirits, so they wouldn’t move into the homes of the living.

    Nowadays, the religious aspect of it is all but extinct, and as someone already pointed out, it’s become a community-building holiday, as well as a day of fun for the places that allow even a little dressing up during the day (in my schools, the little kids went all-out, whereas the high schoolers went with more subtle things, such as ears and tails, since we could dress up as long as were weren’t “disruptive”).

  74. Kelly, I realized just this year that I can totally make homemade treats AS WELL as handing out packaged ones! Because I know everybody on this block, I know all the kids at my nieces’ school who are close enough to come trick-or-treating, I know all the kids from a few blocks over.

  75. […] Goodbye Halloween, Hello “Safety”: "'The bottom line is that I cannot find any evidence that any child has ever been killed or seriously hurt by a contaminated treat picked up in the course of trick-or-treating,' says Joel Best, a professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware. The fear is completely unfounded." […]

  76. Rema,

    “For you statistic diggers, I’d love to know how many kids have been abducted or harmed going door to door doing school fundraisers. That’s another one that there is always warnings about. “Make tons of money for us, but do it by having your parents beg their coworkers because we don’t want YOU to actually do the fundraising yourself”

    I don’t know about Bobtown PA, but there was actually a child killed not far from here in Jackson, NJ in a high profile case in 1997 as he went door to door for a school fundraiser. Eddie Werner was killed for money and sex by a 15 year old boy who answered the door, and there was later a whole brouhaha about whether his killer, Sam Manzie was in fact a victim himself, of a man he met on the internet.

    For that matter, Megan Kanka was abducted and killed just about 4 miles from here. So it is easy to scoff and criticize people who are concerned about safety, until it happens to you or someone you know.

  77. So it is easy to scoff and criticize people who are concerned about safety, until it happens to you or someone you know.

    Lots of things have happened to people I know, but I don’t let rare occurrences stop me from living my life.

  78. Outrageous. Amazing how much focus there is on the myriad dangers that don’t exist that could be cast on ones that patently do exist and threaten the health and safety of our youth.

  79. Really sad. Around here parents don’t keep an eye on their preschoolers in the street, but god forbid you go to a neighbor’s house for trick or treat!!

  80. Susan –

    I lived in New Jersey in 1997, and I remember the names, although I do admit forgetting the details.

    There was also the pizza delivery debacle at the same time – but pizza delivery is not banned. If the solution to one child dying from door to door sales is to ban them forever in the name of safety, shouldn’t pizza delivery sales also be banned in New Jersey? Or do two pizza delivery guys have to die?

  81. Just amazes me whenever I hear that a town controls trick or treating. I don’t think of it as an activity organized by the town.

    And if this is fear about teen behavior, I don’t think banning trick or treating is going to help. Seems like it would frustrate them more. Not an excuse for misbehavior, but those who break into other people’s houses don’t strike me as the type to stop just because Halloween was banned.

  82. I go through all my kids candy once they bring it home. For safety you ask? Heck no! I have them convienced that they do not like Butterfingers and Mounds and that Mommy will take these “yucky” candies off their hands! 😉

  83. I agree with the concern removing Halloween takes away from the community building. When all activities are geared to children being safe, childless adults are pushed away from the larger part of being a community. So many elderly and other non-parent adults really do enjoy having kids stop by. What a better way to really get to know everyone in your neighborhood, not just parents with children your age.

    I really like this blog, I hope it stays non-partisan.

  84. FWIW, ever since I was a kid in the early 70’s, the town organized trick or treating. The idea was that people in their homes would then know what to expect, about when kids would be coming around, and so forth. So they designated a night, and gave a few hours. Everywhere I’ve lived since then has done it the same.

    I don’t think any kid would have been arrested for doing it at other times, so I think it was just a handy way of keeping everybody on the same page about it.

    Banning it, though, is ridiculous. Like I said, what are they going to do, arrest parents or kids for walking around wearing costumes, visiting their neighbors and asking for candy? Under what law?

    Susan — what would have prevented those things? Banning kids from being out on the streets at all? Ever? Is it REALLY worth the price to save a few kids while subjecting every other kid in the world to a restricted, damaging life? Sometimes “if it saves just one life it’s worth it” is not only overblown, it’s actually FALSE, because the price for everyone else in the world really is too high.

  85. That’s a good point, Renee. My grandmother gets so excited weeks before Halloween. She takes forever making these baggies of treats and buys all the best candy. She loves seeing all the neighborhood kids. We don’t trick or treat in her area but we make sure to stop over afterwards for donuts and cider.

    And, Babel, I feel for you. My son is going to be a mangy old cat and my daughter is going to be the hairball he spits up. Imagine making that costume.

  86. Re: community building – I totally agree. A lot of people in our neighborhood sit out on their porches to hand out candy and talk to the other parents/neighbors. down the street, they put one of those patio fire pits out in the street and roast marshmallows. It’s almost a block party (admittedly there’s normally some beer for the parents, but all responsibly consumed, of course…) But the point is that the neighborhood becomes more of a community through such things – instead of hiding inside our houses in fear of ‘what if’.

  87. MaeMae — My son is going to be a mangy old cat and my daughter is going to be the hairball he spits up.

    That’s awesome! 😀 Post pics for us afterward…?

    Angie

  88. The people who authorized this banning of Halloween are stupid. ’nuff said.

  89. Do a Google News archive search (no date restriction) for “Halloween candy razor blade” and there are plenty of police reports about sabotaged candy going back decades.

    Yeah, I guess razor blades don’t count as poison.

  90. Just another example of extreme nanny state society. Let the kids enjoy themselves, parents should be responsible enough to teach them to watch out for tampered packaging.

  91. Good Lord. This is reminiscent of the movie “Footloose,” with the town where dancing was illegal. How exactly can a town “ban” trick-or-treating, anyway? Will they have cops out on the streets to arrest costumed children knocking on doors?

  92. […] Goodbye Halloween, Hello “Safety” Can we think up some great trick to play on  the town supervisors in quaint and quaking Bobtown, Pennsylvania, who […] […]

  93. I hope everyone in Bobtown ignores the outlawing and has a fantastic Halloween anyway. If you want to keep kids safe on Halloween, there’s plenty of options. Send a chaperone along, limit the places they can visitor for their T&T, have them bring back stuff before they eat it. All viable, be it somewhat overprotective options, but everything is better than BANNING a staple childhood memories.

  94. […] Goodbye Halloween, Hello “Safety” « FreeRangeKids […]

  95. I hope they just ignore it, too. What are the authorities gonna do? Arrest every single kid and parent walking the streets. They should trick or treat in protest. Or, even better, trick or treat either on the 30th or 1st of Novemeber, lol. Or skip the regular Halloween fun, and do a Samhain celebration! Maybe skip it this year, and do something similar in the summer, make up a new tradition of trick or treating in the summer.

  96. p.s. my son is going to be a lion, he’s 18 months old, so no trick or treating yet[this year will suck for kids, it’s snowed a few times already, winter is coming early this year =o( ]I am going to put on my mans Necrophobic shirt and do some corpse paint. Black Metal!!!!!! I wanted to do the same for my son, but apparently no one wants black clothes for young children. Sucks, last year I found a black with skeleton patterned hoodie and sweatpants from a Zellers, they didn’t carry it this year. Maybe all the goth parents got to them first!

    Last year hardly any kids came to the door, this year since it’s a Saturday I am going bring a bag of candie with me on my errands and hand them out.

  97. “Maybe all the goth parents got to them first! ”

    Haha, nah. We know where to find that stuff year-round! =D

  98. […] and you don’t have to worry about the other stuff (poison candy, razor blades, etc.). See “Free Range Kids” for […]

  99. @Erica – I used to live in southern Wisconsin, and I remember the effort to make Halloween on a weekend and during daylight. How ridiculous!

    However, I do have some food for thought to offer on Halloween celebrations at school. Until I moved to my current neighborhood, I had no idea that devout Jews often do not celebrate Halloween. Add this to the stories adult Jews tell me of their feelings of loneliness and isolation during Christmas celebrations during school, and I can see reasons for banning Halloween at school. Whether Jewish, Jehovah’s Witness or whatever, celebrating Halloween at school might accentuate the differences of a kid that already feels out of place.

  100. […] over at Free-Range Kids has a post about a town in Pennsylvania that has cancelled Halloween in order to keep kids safe. Safe from what, exactly? We’re not […]

  101. @Erica – I used to live in southern Wisconsin, and I remember the effort to make Halloween on a weekend and during daylight. How ridiculous!

    However, I do have some food for thought to offer on Halloween celebrations at school. Until I moved to my current neighborhood, I had no idea that devout Jews often do not celebrate Halloween. Add this to the stories adult Jews tell me of their feelings of loneliness and isolation during Christmas celebrations during school, and I can see reasons for banning Halloween at school. Whether Jewish, Jehovah’s Witness or whatever, celebrating Halloween at school might accentuate the differences of a kid that already feels out of place.
    “”

    Some devout Jews do celebrate, went to a halloween gather years ago and there was a guy dressed as a fancy pirate, and when we chatted I learned he was also observing the Sabbath. lol.

  102. I have a child with dairy, and egg allergy and my husband has a nut allergy (not peanuts thankfully) I will always be involved with checking anything that goes in her mouth. It’s my responsibility as a parent. Glad to hear that the danger is a lore, won’t stop me from keeping my kids safe though. I didn’t trick or treat as a kid but this will be the 2nd year we will go as a family.

  103. […] known rapist or raise their children next door to a child molester. However, there is a sense that child molesters pose a greater threat on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Maybe it’s the hordes of children knocking on neighborhood […]

  104. […] inspection, I suppose we skeptics can trot out the annual debunking that no such dangers really exist. The gist is that there have been very few, if any, legitimate cases of poisoning, deadly razor […]

  105. Reading this reminds me of my late room mate. That guy was one of the smartest individuals I know, but he was a little outlandish for my tastes though. Anyways I appreciated reading this, thanks. Will give me something to discuss when I see him.

  106. […] Let’s face it: putting on your Halloween costume on November 3rd when it’s not even dark out yet is lame. I’m a big fan of Wichita’s policy (though I don’t understand all the hand-wringing over Halloween Street — what are they going to do, ban Broadview residents from decorating?). I’m betting FreeRangeKids blogger Lenore Skenazy would agree. […]

  107. It’s actually a nice and useful piece of information. I’m glad that you shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: