Outrage of the Week: Today Show’s Crazy Halloween Advice

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.


Don't wait here, Linus! Come inside to our Super Safe & Fun Plastic Pumpkin Party!


To See Where Childhood Is Headed, Look at Halloween

Hi Readers! You’ve seen some of the facts here before — like the fact no child has EVER been poisoned by a stranger’s candy, as far as university research can tell — but if you need a little Halloween pep talk, here it is, on Huffington Post.

My main point? If you want to see where childhood is headed, look at Halloween. It’s going from a joyful, neighborhood, kid-centric day (or night!) to a parent-planned, neighbor-distrusting, often indoors and/or daytime “event,” slathered in suspicion and Purell. Why?

The “sake of the children,” of course.  And to think I used to feel bad stealing my kids’ Kit-Kats. It’s worse to steal their holiday. — Lenore

Halloween: Too Scary for Kids?

Hi Readers — and BOO!

Oh my God! Sorry! I hope your kids weren’t reading over your shoulder! I didn’t mean to scare the little dears — it could traumatize them for life! Imagine the psychiatric bills — or years in the insane asylum!

That’s the way we’re supposed to think of kids now: Too delicate for ANYTHING, including, apparently, being even slightly spooked by a holiday hitherto dedicated to  spookiness. As this New York Times article documents, schools and community centers across the country are asking that kids not wear any disturbing, scary or politically incorrect costumes.

I guess that means no ghosts, gobblins, witches, ghouls, vampires or — scariest of all — Halloween festivity organizers.

Hope yours is a happy holiday despite all this. — Lenore (who’s allowing her children to eat unwrapped candy. For real. Boo!)

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