Readers — It is time to howl at the moon, or, better yet, NBC. Its Today Show “panel of experts” declared to the world the precise age at which parents can safely let their children start trick or treating without an older chaperon:
That’s right. Exactly the age when kids start thinking about whether they should be trick or treating at all. And the Today Show’s rationale? Oh, it is priceless. In “gated communities,” one of the experts said, maybe kids as young as 10 could go out without an older person. “But generally speaking you don’t want to go any earlier than 13 because people put on masks, they put on disguises, and there still are people who do bad things.”
Huh? The holiday is dangerous because of “masks” and “disguises”? Is this expert scared of the ghosts and goblins? Is she aware that these are NOT REAL? And that, “generally speaking” people do not automatically BECOME evil just because they have dressed up like vampires and witches?
Imagine if the Today Show guidelines had been in place when Charles Schulz wrote, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” The Peanuts gang would be inside at a “safe” party organized by grown-ups, with various adults warning them about eating too much candy, wearing loose costumes (these can make you trip!) and wearing tight costumes (these can cut off your air supply before you know it and God knows how many kids have died of tight-costumitis!), and everything else, including running, skipping, laughing (you could choke!) and wearing costumes that scare the other kids. Because nothing even the teensiest bit frightening should ever happen to kids at all. Even on Halloween.
The age that kids can really start trick or treating on their own, in my opinion? Well, considering the world has NOT dramatically changed in 20 years (except that crime has gone down), a good rule of thumb is: the same age as you did. Teach your kids to cross streets safely. Teach them never to go off with anyone. Teach them to save you some candy. (Not just the Mary Janes!) And put some reflective tape on their costumes. Why? Because, as you know, I believe in safety.
Just not that ghosts and goblins are out to get our kids. — Lenore
P.S. And yes, when I say, “Go out without a chaperon,” I am advocating groups of kids, not just one lonely skeleton.