Halloween: The Day We Test-Market New Parental Fears

Hi ntdbttraif
Readers! Here’s my Wall Street Journal column from last year, slightly edited, about today’s holiday. Boo! — L


Halloween is the day when America market-tests parental paranoia. If a new fear flies on Halloween, it’s probably going to catch on the rest of the year, too.

Take “stranger danger,” the classic Halloween horror. Even when I was a kid, back in the “Bewitched” era, parents were already worried about neighbors poisoning candy. Sure, the folks down the street might smile and wave the rest of the year, but apparently they were just biding their time before stuffing us silly with strychnine-laced Smarties.

That was a wacky idea, but we bought it. We still buy it, even though Joel Best, a sociologist at the University of Delaware, has researched the topic and spends every October telling the press that there has never been a single case of any child being killed by a stranger’s Halloween candy. (Oh, yes, he concedes, there was once a Texas boy poisoned by a Pixie Stix. But his dad did it for the insurance money. He was executed.)

Anyway, you’d think that word would get out: Poisoned candy? Not happening. But instead, most Halloween articles to this day tell parents to feed children a big meal before they go trick-or-treating, so they won’t be tempted to eat any candy before bringing it home for inspection.

As if being full has ever stopped any kid from eating free candy!

So stranger danger is still going strong, and it’s even spread beyond Halloween to the rest of the year. Now parents consider their neighbors potential killers all year round. That’s why they don’t let their kids play on the lawn, or wait alone for the school bus: “You never know!” The psycho-next-door fear went viral.


Then along came new fears. Parents are warned annually not to let their children wear costumes that are too tight –those could seriously restrict breathing! But not too loose either — kids could trip! Fall! Die!

Treating parents like idiots who couldn’t possibly notice that their kid is turning blue or falling on his face might seem like a losing proposition, but it caught on too.

Halloween taught marketers that parents are willing to be warned about anything, no matter how preposterous, and then they’re willing to be sold whatever solutions the market can come up with: Face paint so no mask will obscure a child’s vision. Purell, so no child touches a germ. And the biggest boondoggle of all, the adult-supervised party, so no child encounters anything exciting. Er, “dangerous.”

Think of how Halloween used to be the one day of the year when gaggles of kids took to the streets by themselves — at night even. Big fun! Low cost! But once the party moved inside (to keep kids safe from the nonexistent poisoners), in came all the nonsense. The battery-operated caskets. The hired witch. The plastic everything else. Halloween went from hobo holiday to $6 billion extravaganza, even as it blazed the way for adult-supervised everything else.  Once Halloween got outsourced to adults, no kids-only activity was safe. Goodbye sandlot, hello batting coach!


And now comes the latest Halloween terror: Across the country, cities and states are passing waves of laws preventing registered sex offenders from leaving their homes — or sometimes even turning on their lights — on Halloween.

The reason? Same old same old — safety. As a panel of “experts” on the “Today” show warned viewers recently: Don’t let your children trick-or-treat without you “any earlier than [age] 13, because people put on masks, they put on disguises, and there are still people who do bad things.”

Perhaps there are. But Elizabeth Letourneau, an associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, studied crime statistics from 30 states and found, “There is zero evidence to support the idea that Halloween is a dangerous date for children in terms of child molestation.”

In fact, she says, “We almost called this paper, ‘Halloween: The Safest Day of the Year,’ because it was just so incredibly rare to see anything happen on that day.”

Why is it so safe? Because despite our mounting fears and apoplectic media, it is still the day that many of us, of all ages, go outside. We knock on doors. We meet each other. And all that giving and taking and trick-or-treating is building the very thing that keeps us safe: community.

We can kill off Halloween, or we can accept that it isn’t dangerous and give it back to the kids. Then maybe we can start giving them back the rest of their childhoods, too. — L.S.

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111 Responses to Halloween: The Day We Test-Market New Parental Fears

  1. Uly October 31, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    You do realize that trick-or-treating in the US is relatively recent (it only even started to catch on after WWII) and that Halloween parties are MORE traditional, right?

  2. Brian October 31, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

    I got a robo-call from our town saying that due to power outages, trees, wires, etc. Goosey Night and Halloween are being canceled.

    Since when did my local government run those holidays? I didn’t realize that the town let you throw toilet papers once a year. Or that kids walking around to other people’s houses to get candy was organized by the town. I thought it was just sort of a tradition/spontaneous.

  3. Sarah October 31, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    What drives me nuts is all the articles giving you ideas of what to do to get rid of your child’s candy because apparently once a year gorging on candy will make our kids fat and toothless. Just let them have their candy and be kids. When I was a kid we kept ours in our rooms in our closet and ate off of them as we pleased until they were gone, and we all turned out fine. I just want to tell all the nutritionists to RELAX. 🙂

  4. Cynthia October 31, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

    I was watching Bullshit with Penn and Teller today and I saw your bit on the show. I have a now 12 year old daughter and she has had a bus pass since she was 9. Now granted we live in Utah, but I am from Chicago and I would still allow her to range free. Tonight when I get home, I am going to show her your website and articles, she is always tryig to tell me it isn’t safe for her and I just tell her to go and explore, that the world is safe and i know she is smart and able to take care of herself. I do practice safety with her, seat belts, look both ways when crossing traffic, call me when you get there, (ya, she has a cell phone) She and I don’t understand why her peers can’t ride the bus without an adult when she has been doing it for years.

  5. Isabelle October 31, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    I agree with Sarah. Here’s one I just read a few minutes ago. A lot of the comments are filled with parents suggesting to use a witch fairy to take away all your child’s candy and leave a toy instead. Sigh…….


  6. Nanci October 31, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    I just got done reading your post. Then I read Dear Abby for the day and this is what she closed with…

    A Note To Parents Of Young Children: Tonight is the night when wee witches and goblins collect their loot. Please supervise them so they’ll be safe. — Abby

    So sad!!! My daughter is 9 and her friends are all 9/10. They run around all over our neighborhood together all the time. I told my daughter that this year she and her friends should go trick or treating together without parents. She asked them all and none of them can. One mother told me she won’t let her daughter out alone on Halloween night! So every other day of the year it’s fine for them to run around alone but not on Halloween!!!

  7. Moms Justice October 31, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    If a pedophile wants to get your children they do not need a holiday to do that. I wish people would look at the facts of who is considered a “sex offender” in todays society. Most of these people are doing things that we did as teenagers and young adults. Not all “sex offenders” are pedophiles but with the way the laws are and putting everyone who committs a “sex crime” on the registry to put the fear into the public. There are over 750,00 sex offenders on the registry and many of them are young teens and young adults that have done something stupid like having consensual sex with their girlfriends, looking at under 18 pornography and they are only 17 themselves, etc. Society needs to be educated and then you will not be scared to let your children outside. Children deserve to be kids just like we were allowed. Please let your kids be just that and don’t let uneducated individuals tell you any different.

  8. Colleen October 31, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    My 9 year old son will be ToT without parental supervision (but with a friend) this year.

    We’ve discussed it, and he will have a set time to return, and even though he knows not to enter anybody’s house while out ToT, I let him know if he has an emergency, it’s okay to ask for help from any passing parents or teenagers, or even walking into somebody’s house to use a phone or get assistance. I will NOT be tracking him by GPS, nor will I even give him a cell phone. He knows the neighbourhood well, knows most of the neighbours already (he has a LOT of free range), and isn’t afraid to speak up.

    My Dad told me that when he was a kid, about 8 or 9, him and his friends would bring bars of soap with them. If nobody came to the door but they saw the homeowner was home, they’d quickly soap down the windows and run off before they got caught. I guess part of the ‘trick’ if they didn’t get any candy. I failed to mention that aspect of Halloween to my son.

    To Uly – of course ToT is a recent tradition…if you consider 80 years being recent. It doesn’t mean it’s not a TRADITION.

    Re: Robo-call – many towns mandate a specific time and date for allowed ToT. In fact, people are lobbying right now to have actual ToT be the last Saturday of October. Boo to that.

    Sarah: My son is REQUESTING that I pay him for the load he brings in. I am more then happy to oblige. We did it a couple years ago and the Dentist shipped it all to soldiers overseas (supposedly). My son LOVED it. This time he’s saving up for something important, and he could care less about all the candy. He advised me he’ll keep one or two special treats, but that’s it.

  9. Miss Mommy October 31, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    My twin boys are nine, and my little girl is seven. I would have no problem at all letting them trick or treat around our neighborhood themselves, however both of my boys have Aspergers and the one seems to get scared at various decorations that some people have. When he gets scared, he freezes up with both hands over his ears – doesn’t matter if he is in the middle of the street, on the sidewalk, or at that person’s door. However, I have no problem with them eating their candy (except for the pieces that somehow disappear when they go to bed – hopefully this won’t be the year they catch on that the candy that disappears happens to be Mommy and Daddy’s favorites). I think the idea of having some “Candy Fairy” take away the candy and replace it with a toy is ridiculous! We keep our candy in a big bowl, and they can each pick out a few pieces for dessert for as long as it lasts!

  10. K October 31, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    If we are really concerned about the candy making our kids obese… perhaps we should encourage them to run around their neighborhoods more?

    Alolng these lines: I saw a handful of tween-ish girls walking along the road last week. As a free-ranger myself, I was shocked to hear my inner voice… “where are their parents? Does anyone know where they are?…” until my rational voice said… “At that age, I ran around with a pack, in the woods, in neighborhoods, at the reservoir, and we had to be home by dark. Rock on, girls!”

    For a free-range fan from way-back. Even I have been influenced enough by these naysayers that I have to correct my inner voice. That’s more scary than any dire warnings of poisoned candy or nefarious neighbors.

  11. Verena B October 31, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    Sometimes, we just need to laugh at the craziness. (Laughter is the best medicine even for our communities?)

    Here’s some good Halloween Safety tips =}

  12. EricS October 31, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    Some adults are just ruining childhood for children. And all because of THEIR fears and lack of common sense. Don’t let the children suffer for your inadequacies. There is enough under privileged children in the world, don’t make anymore.

  13. Mike October 31, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    But how will my child ever get into Harvard if I’m not there to make sure she’s trick or treating correctly?!

    Halloween is like a once a year rumspringa for children. So happy to see the column and hope it helps keep the fun alive.

  14. pentamom October 31, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    I’m still trying to figure out why, even if it were true that molesters are particularly active on Halloween, costumes and masks make them more dangerous.

    I love that concept — “the day we test-market parental fears.” LOL!

    I think Uly has a point that since parties are also traditional, replacing ToT with parties does not signal The Decline and Fall of American Culture. But I think the larger point is that something that was traditional for us, and our parents (well at least most of y’all’s parents, mine are from a slightly older generation), is being replaced (for some, at least) because of imaginary “dangers.” If people decided that going back to parties was cheaper, more fun, more authentic, whatever, that would be one thing. But tossing out a tradition that worked for generations because we imagine it’s become “dangerous” is rather silly.

    Not that I’m advocating going back to real candles on Christmas trees, but even there — if everyone’s house was burning down, would it really have been a popular idea? Sometimes the best antidote to this stuff is a healthy dose of “were all our ancestors blithering idiots?” Sometimes the answer is, there were things they weren’t aware of that we now realize are unsafe. But the necessity of breathing under a mask or the relatively increased risks of walking around at night probably aren’t among them.

  15. Leanne October 31, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

    My husband has to do something out of town this afternoon, for work, and said that he might not get back in time for the start of the trick-or-treating. So, I’m considering letting my 8yo and 4yo (who goes to school and takes a schoolbus, along with his brother) go around our block by themselves so that I can hand out candy until my husband gets back. What an adventure! I’m already considering giving them my cell and what “rules” to give them (for the benefit of the 4yo).

  16. hopey October 31, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

    The Halloween Candy Buy-Back program really does send the candy to the military overseas. The soldiers very much appreciate the treats.

  17. EricS October 31, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

    Way to go Leanne. If there are neighborhood kids your kids know, perhaps they can join them as well. The more the merrier. Not only do your children get empowered by their taste of independence, but they would also grow a stronger bond among the kids in your neighborhood. Wishing all a great night of ToT.

  18. LauraL October 31, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    Pentamom, not that I agree, but I’m sure the ‘hiding behind masks’ idea is that the ‘offender’ wouldn’t be able to be identified.

  19. Claire53 October 31, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

    The registry list, all 750,000 of them, are not psychopaths in the vein of what happened to Jessica, or Megan, or all the other children who have laws named after them (as if THAT isn’t creepy!) Such people are rare.

    Most people on the list had underage sex, looked at the wrong photographs, or molested someone in their own family and did not have contact with strangers. Stranger attacks is tragic, but rare, and I hardly think taking a guy who slept with a girl his own age when he was also underage, or a guy who looked at nudie photos of teenage girls, or a guy who got caught peeing outdoors, should be rounded up like evil monsters and segregated from children, with whom their crimes had nothing to do.

    Alabama is actually rounding up their sex offenders into local courthouses. Gonna show ’em a movie maybe! Waive the quarterly $20 registration fee for one quarter! Hey! What a deal! see:

    They have a name for this kind of rounding up – it was called Naziism.

  20. Claire53 October 31, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    And Lenore – THANK YOU FOR YOUR SANITY and wonderful article on this once fun and innocent holiday. :))

  21. Jenny Islander November 1, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    We have a downtown daylight TorT because of a legitimate Halloween fear: the fear that, as often happens on Halloween, the day will be humid but cold and the night will be even colder, coating the sidewalks with black ice. Getting a great big scrape on a freezing cold night is Not Fun. Also, if it’s extremely cold and windy, as also happens quite often on Halloween, the wee tots will be spending a lot of time inside buildings, dashing from office to office and going through the scaaaary little kids’ haunted houses. (The walk-in clinic just puts out their medical models under weirdly colored gel lights and fake spiderwebs and plays a CD of spooky noises. For teeny kids, this is awesome!)

    This is a rational solution to a recognized issue. Putting every guy who ever peed in the bushes in the same room as every creep who ever fondled his own daughter on the grounds that Halloween is their special night . . . not so much.

  22. gina November 1, 2011 at 12:18 am #

    I absolutely agree with everything said here…and I am so saddened by the “sex offender” label put on people who don’t deserve it.
    The only issue I would have with allowing a child under 8/9 to ToT in the dark is that they are hard to see by drivers. Any thoughts?

  23. pentamom November 1, 2011 at 12:29 am #

    “Pentamom, not that I agree, but I’m sure the ‘hiding behind masks’ idea is that the ‘offender’ wouldn’t be able to be identified.”

    Yes, but if you actually think about it, does that really make sense? Offenders aren’t described by their victims as wearing masks most of the time, so this isn’t evidently really a big concern to them. And surely no one believes that they restrain themselves 364 days a year until Halloween when they know they can get away with wearing a mask and be “safe.” And finally, if they wanted to wear a mask to hid their identity, why would it have to be Halloween? Do bank robbers only wear masks on Halloween? Is the idea somehow that there are lots of people walking around with masks, so no one will notice a sex offender with a mask? But does that really add up, logically? Do other criminals take advantage of Halloween to commit crimes “because there are lots of people wearing masks that day?”

    So the idea that somehow it being Halloween means that a greater danger is presented by people in masks doesn’t *actually* make any sense at all. It sounds much more like a product somehow sitting around visualizing what goes on on Halloween and how you could imagine that would work out to a “danger,” than anything connected to actual human behavior.

  24. Kelly November 1, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    I think it’s silly to force your kid to give up their candy. They went out and did the legwork to get it. However, when our son gets old enough to go trick-or-treating I like the idea of doing the 10 cent per candy buyback program. That way it lowers the amount of candy he eats, he still gets something, and he gets to choose whether the candy or the money is more important.

  25. Stephanie November 1, 2011 at 12:32 am #

    @Gina – Flashlights, of course!! I always had a flashlight stashed in the pillowcase I used to collect candy. I didn’t necessarily use it in well-lit areas, but in darker areas it made it much easier to navigate and presumably made it easier for drivers to spot me.

    And the sex offender thing is so frustrating. Nevermind that MOST people on that list have no interest in children, but so many of them are on the list because they made a bad decision once, and have probably not repeated it since. There are also plenty who have done really bad things as well, but the ones you need to worry about are the ones who aren’t on the list because they haven’t been caught yet. Of course, there are plenty of people who would assume this means you need to be suspicious of everyone (as opposed to, you know, teaching your kids the red flags and letting them develop a gut instinct as to who they should trust!).

  26. forsythia November 1, 2011 at 12:41 am #

    A party? At home? They could choke on a skinned grape! (gasp!)

  27. Lala lady November 1, 2011 at 12:52 am #

    I remember the idea of using an x-ray machine to check the candy. Honestly, I only inspect the candy because there are candies we don’t eat because of religious reasons. But I let my kids eat as much as they want on the walk. I don’t see Halloween as a dangerous night, I remember having lots of fun wandering the neighborhood getting candy. As long as we live in a suburban area I will always let the kiddos trick or treat by themselves.

    The only worry I have is having to acknowledge the practical slave labor that is used to harvest chocolate. Some farms even use children the industry says they don’t own the farms so its not their problem…whats a parent to do.

  28. Jynet November 1, 2011 at 12:56 am #

    There was a case in Canada in 2008 of cold pills being put into Smarties boxes:


    Still, if the kids are old enough to be eating unsupervised a simple warning that candy that doesn’t look like it is supposed to shouldn’t be eatten should take care of that!

  29. KyohakuKeisanki November 1, 2011 at 1:10 am #


  30. KyohakuKeisanki November 1, 2011 at 1:26 am #

    pentamom (“If people decided that going back to parties was cheaper, more fun, more authentic, whatever, that would be one thing.”): Or, if the kids decided they liked the parties better — as I would have done, even if I WAS allowed to ToT (a medium-sized local church puts on something massive every year). As for things which we now see as unsafe, I’m pretty sure lead paint on trim and other places where it could easily chip off falls into that category. Really tall playgrounds with moving parts, however, fall squarely into the other category (the “are you sure it was really our ancestors, and not US, who were/are stupid?” category… seriously obesity is a major risk that I believe is downplayed despite all the publicity it gets).

  31. Marie November 1, 2011 at 1:43 am #

    Our local news had the standard story about how sex offenders have to keep their lights off and not decorate for Halloween. They also had a warning about watching out for candy containing medical marijuana, and how to recognize such candy. They admitted that it has never happened so far as anyone knows, but because it exists, they put out a warning.

    Personally, I’d imagine that most people paying whatever it is medical marijuana candy costs wouldn’t want to give it out as a treat to kids. It can’t possibly be as cheap as regular candy.

  32. socialjerk November 1, 2011 at 1:52 am #

    When I was a kid, we were always eager to go out trick or treating as soon as we got home from school. My parents wouldn’t let us go out until it was dark, as they insisted that trick or treating when it was light out would not be remotely spooky or fun. You’ll never believe it, but I’m actually not writing this from beyond the grave. (Or am I?…)

    This was my social work-y take on the subject, in case anyone is interested:


  33. Tara November 1, 2011 at 1:54 am #

    A note on one of your side links: “Funny! This guy sings pop songs using extra-wordy versions of the vapid but real lyrics. (Now I sound like him!)” has the link to the “I’m No Fool” bit. 🙂

  34. helynna November 1, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    I volunteered at a Halloween Party yesterday at Montara Lighthouse Hostel in Montara California, a beautiful place to stay with children. I staffed an activity table making a popcorn filled glove. It was a very simple activity using a clear thin plastic glove, putting a candy corn into each finger to be fingernails, then filling the glove with popcorn and tying the top. Three year olds could do it easily but slowly, although I only saw a couple whose parents allowed them to do it alone. The proud smiles of accomplishment on those few were precious. I was frankly shocked at how many parents felt they had to assist, instruct and take over the activity of kids as old as ten. I tried to be creative, jokingy saying it was a kids only activity but if they (the parent) really wanted to do it I would give them their own glove to fill. Only a few parents seemed able to patiently watch their child fill a glove with popcorn.

  35. BMS November 1, 2011 at 2:49 am #

    This just gets my goat:


    So a bunch of towns have decided to postpone trick or treating due to the snow storm here in the Boston area. My town isn’t in the list, but I find I would like to move to the towns that say ‘Parental Discretion’. What a concept! Trusting parents to have a clue about whether to send their kids out trick or treating! Imagine.

  36. Selby November 1, 2011 at 2:50 am #

    OMG, helynna, you let 3-year-old kids have a plastic glove!? No wonder the parents were freaked out. The kids could have eaten the glove! Choked! Put it over their mouth and nose and asphyxiated! With one activity, you manifested all their Halloween AND parenting fears!

    (Well done, my dear)

  37. Lolo Stone November 1, 2011 at 3:11 am #

    I heard on the radio today, from a local emergency pediatrician that “every year there are cases of foreign substances being added to candy, so make sure they’re all still in their original wrappers.” My coworkers now think I’m insane since they caught me screaming at the radio: “BULLSH*T!!! DID YOU EVEN CHECK YOUR OWN RECORDS? OR EVEN YOUR OWN MEMORY YOU FEAR-MONGERING NINNY!! STOP RUINING HALLOWEEN!” I think I overreacted 🙂

  38. Heather G November 1, 2011 at 4:16 am #

    I just saw a news story *encouraging* kids gorging on candy. A dentist was saying how it’s better for their teeth to feast on it quickly, brushing afterwards of course, then to eat it over a long period of time. I can only imagine the calls and e-mails the station is getting.

    I have many fond memories of going to All Saints Mass with a candy hangover that lasted until Christmas Eve. How could I deny that to my kids?

  39. Jynet November 1, 2011 at 4:38 am #

    Heather, that was the advise even when I was a child (30+ years ago!). ONE day of high sugar candy – with a good brushing afterwards – is easier to control than a number of days of a couple of pieces a day for desert.

    Most parents don’t make thier kids brush right after the sugary snack (waiting until bedtime) which leaves the sugar on the teeth for hours each day. Which is a bad, bad thing… from a dentists point of view!

    As an added bonus the kids may over eat and end up with a belly ache which would discourage future candy consumption – or at least it did for my brother and I, lol!

  40. Cheryl W November 1, 2011 at 7:08 am #

    I let my kids eat a bit on Halloween night, then 20 minutes a day for a few days after that. Followed by good long brushings. At some point we save the yucky left overs for decorating our gingerbread houses in December. Which look beautiful, until they get dusty, then we throw them out. (They eat a few candies, but not most of them.)

    Our dentist wanted to have our 6 month appointment tomorrow. I told them next week would be better to get the kids to brush well until then. (“Where are we going?” Marge says, “Disney Land!” “Yay!” cheer Bart and Lisa. “Hey, we are not at Disney Land – we are at the dentist!”)

  41. Cheryl W November 1, 2011 at 7:14 am #

    Marie, how exactly do you recognize the candy with “medical Mary Jane” if it has never happened? How would they know what it looks like? Pretty expensive treat to give out to kids, if you ask me!

    I had a friend in CA tell me that they are going to a church for ToT because she is afraid of laced candy. I told her the facts, but I really don’t think that she believed me. On the other hand, her son, 12, with autism, has gigantic melt downs when he eats sugar, so staying away from the candy is a good thing for the whole family. Had she told me that she was not TOT for that reason, I would have told her it was a great idea!

  42. Dolly November 1, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    Happy to report I took my two 4 year olds trick or treating and had a great time in our subdivision. I normally have not taken them since last time we went hardly anyone was home and some didn’t even have candy! We were early in the evening because they were little but still. This year about 50% of the houses had their lights off but that was still plenty of houses. Everyone was very nice and we saw lots of kids out. My husband said we got quite a few at our house too.

    I The funny part is our subdivision is big hills so it is hard to walk it. I walk it for exercise and it is a humdinger! My boys walked the whole neighborhood and never complained! I was so proud of them! I was not sure if they would be able to walk it but they did. I saw MUCH older kids being driven around and it kinda made me smirk that my little boys were actually walking and the big kids weren’t. Everyone thought we they were cute.

  43. Dolly November 1, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    I also wanted to say that we got more kids than we normally get this year too so maybe trick or treating is making a comeback!

  44. RobC November 1, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    Considering how sick some kids get after gorging themselves on Halloween candy, a bit of medical marijuana might be just the thing they need to settle their stomachs afterwards.

  45. Janet November 1, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    Since our town was one of the few in Northern NJ that didn’t “cancel” Halloween until Friday (how ridiculous is that- because our helicopter parents couldn’t be trusted to make a decision about that all on their own?..) we had tons of kids trick or treating in our neighborhood- with parents driving them from door to door.. not even bothering to get out of the car themselves. Drive 20 ft, stop, let them out, repeat.50 times. Uggh. And we wonder why our kids are insecure and overweight?

  46. wellcraftedtoo November 1, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    Nice job, Lenore, really enjoyed the column/essay!

  47. Jen November 1, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    ToT here was actually yesterday, from 4-5 pm. It’s been on the Sunday before Halloween during daylight hours for more than 30 years, but not quite 40 years (that being the approximate time difference between when my mom quit ToT at ~15 and when I started at ~3). We’re not sure exactly when or why the legislation went into place for our township, but the last time a group of parents complained about it at a twp meeting, they were told “Our elderly residents don’t like being bothered at night or during random times, this rule will NOT be changing!” Ridiculous, but… Since the same people have been elected every 2 years for the past 20, apparently a majority of the population agrees with them. Or the fact that ToT isn’t a big issue when the twp is run very well the other 364 days. Admittedly, there isn’t a penalty for going door to door or giving out candy on October 31, but we’ve been home all night tonight and not one person has knocked, mostly because if kids walked around on Halloween night, the majority of people wouldn’t have candy to give since the “Official ToT” already happened. My sister took my 2 1/2 year old daughter, since I’m somewhat too pregnant to walk that much, and Gwen got a whole bag of junk, including some homemade stuff. We’re doling it out a little at a time, mostly to avoid a miserable mommy and daddy when she eats so much that she gets sick. In a couple years, when I know she understands the consequences, it’ll be a free-for-all and she can learn not to eat so much the hard way. 🙂

    I’ve been telling my mom for years that she was cruel when I was little, but I’m not sure which would have been worse as a kid: how it happened, or not getting to ToT at all. I was diagnosed with ADD, which would have been ADHD if they had been making the distinction 25 years ago. In order to avoid drugging me into insensibility with Ritalin, my parents and my pediatrician put me on dietary restrictions that included NO chocolate, NO red or yellow food dye, NO caffeine and minimal sugar. Then, every year Mom would dress me up in a homemade costume and send my sister and I out to ToT. Once the loot came home, I was able to eat maybe a half dozen pieces out of the huge bag I always got. I suppose, looking back, that it taught me a lot about dealing with frustration. It also taught me all kinds of ways to sneak candy and other “bad” stuff when I didn’t think my folks would find out.

  48. pentamom November 1, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    LOL @ how the same day every year, once a year only, is “random times.”

    I don’t actually have a big problem with ToT being on alternate days (though that’s likely because I grew up with it, so it doesn’t seem “wrong” to me.) But the reasons have to make at least a *little* sense.

  49. Dana Gottlieb November 1, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    I just wanted to share my refreshing experience of trick-or-treating this year. We were a group of around 20. However, we knew most of the kids and parents walking around the neighborhood. Therefore, our kids kept intermixing with other groups.

    I was offered wine, coffee, and cider at various houses. My kids also were offered cider and milk. They received two homemade items (cupcakes and toffee). I realize that this is not possible in many neighborhoods, but there still exist some communities in which Trick-or-Treat can be fun for all.

  50. FrancesfromCanada November 1, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    Also happy to report that in my inner-city neighborhood almost all the houses not only had their lights on but had jack o’lanterns on their doorsteps, and ALL the little kids on the street were out; most with their parents, sure, but then my son, age 3, is among the oldest.

    At one house, we were asked to wait so that their elderly grandma could come to the door to hand out the candy, because she likes to see the little kids. Come to think of it, we got the best candy (and the best scary doorstep — mechanical flying bats, anyone?) at seniors’ houses. Whoever the Hallowe’en equivalent of Scrooge is doesn’t appear to be living on my street. Whew.

  51. SgtMom November 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    Yes, Thank you Lenore, as always for a great column.

  52. Will B November 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    If people are that worried about protecting their children from new sex crimes perhaps they ought to take a look at the statistics
    Here’s the breakdown in the Percentage of new sex crimes
    Close acquaintances (59%)
    Family members (34%)
    Police officers 3.0%
    Teachers 00.7%
    Clergy 00.3%
    strangers 1% those who have not been convicted of a sex crime (note: this could include somebody that was met at a party or a street dance and does not necessarily mean an adult)
    People on the registry/previously convicted 00.17%. That is 17/100 of one percent
    Teachers, Clergy and people on the registry commit fewer New sex offenses than the protectors of society, our diligent law enforcement officers. From this information it would seem that one of the most single trusted segments of our society, police officers: are over 14 times more likely to be involved in a new sex crime than people on the registry andteachers are over 3 times likely followed by clergy which are twice as likely.

  53. Cheryl W November 1, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    Will B, those stats make sense, but where did they come from?

  54. Laura Swift Lind November 1, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Here’s a good article about Halloween from a pediatrician.


  55. ebohlman November 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    Will: agree with Cheryl that you need to provide a link (not that anyone doesn’t believe you, just that we’d like something to back them up when we cite them).

    Couple observations: Based on what I know from other research, I suspect that “mother’s boyfriends” make up a large part of “close acquaintances”. I also suspect that when it comes to “police officers” correctional officers in juvenile detention facilities are much more likely to be sexual abusers than your typical cop on the street (plenty of horror stories where corrections officers in juvie seem to think of sex with their charges as a perk of the job).

  56. Nicole K November 1, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    I always assumed the “candy check” was something parents made up so they could take the candy away and eat it themselves. I remember it was somehow always Snickers that had a slightly torn wrapper…

  57. Christopher Byrne November 1, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

    What’s fear worth? Well, probably $1 billion. That’s the increase in spending that was forecast by the National Retail Federation this year over the last couple of years, making Halloween the #2 spending holiday behind Christmas. To put that in perspective, there is significant increase in expenditure on adults and a huge jump in Halloween gear for pets, but anecdotally, we see the number of parents refusing to allow kids to trick-or-treat on the upswing. They are opting for parties instead to keep kids “safe.” Of course that’s nonsense, and this year the “sexual predator” angle has been all over our local news, including a Facebook page to help you find where in your neighborhood, “your kids are in real danger.”
    Lenore and others have covered it well, but on some level the fear mongering comes down to business. For every party that’s planned, more money is spent. For every parent who watches news because of a scary tease, more advertising is seen. Scare me with fantasy so I can feel safe in reality is a classic component of horror movies, and, yes, children’s literature. (Except when you get to pablum like “Franklin” and “Caillous,” which many kids reject outright.) It creates an emotional high that is addictive. The statistics are still on the side of safety, but many don’t want to give that up. The problem is when we believe in the face of facts to the contrary. Yes, previously convicted predators are real and flesh-eating zombies are not (promise!), but has anyone noticed that, as Will B points out, the difference between fantasy and reality can be statistically insignificant? It reminds me of the woman in the old house in our neighborhood who we were convinced was a which. I think she was probably either agoraphobic or didn’t care for hordes of children. But that didn’t stop us from creating stories to scare the younger kids. Worked, too. But it wasn’t real. The challenge we face today is that as grownups our culture still likes to make up stories and believe them. I’m with the woman who yelled at the radio. We need more of that!

  58. Heather G November 1, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    Our trick or treating report: My inlaws convinced my husband to take the kids in their neighborhood. What a wasteland for trick or treating. Only 5 houses (and we were the only trick or treaters). Because they are 2 and 6 months when we got home they went to bed (after my 2 year old ate all his candy in the car). In the mean time my neighborhood was rocking. Kids everywhere. A few homemade haunted houses. All but one house was giving out candy. Neighborhood teens handing out candy for their neighbors so people could take their kids trick or treating. Only one car following their trick or treaters and those were people who didn’t live here. At one point my husband and I left our sleeping kids at our home, walked down a few houses and talked to our neighbors. It was the way Halloween is supposed to be. Next year the inlaws have to suck it up and come to our house because we aren’t letting our kids miss out again. Oh, and there were homemade treats being given out at a few houses.

    I love my neighborhood.

  59. Heather G November 1, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    Oh, I should mention that the only parents taking kids trick or treating were parents of real little ones, like mine. The kids who roam the neighborhood freely the rest of the year were roaming freely last night. Even some of the people who drove in to trick or treat found houses to make friends with and let their kids go on without them.

  60. Dolly November 1, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    Guess I will report we did not get any handmade items. It was all store bought candy. I had to go through it and pick out the items that had peanuts or were probably processed with peanuts and the items that we were just not sure about. Still left them with a lot. yay for the people giving out pretzel bags that said they were made in a peanut free facility. Also yay for the person giving out mini bags of oreos.

  61. Robin H November 1, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

    I need to vent and this is the only place to do it! I had to pick my son up from school yesterday afternoon. There was a big group of TorTer’s. They were having a grand time, kids and parents were both dressed up. This area of town has sidewalks. Guess who was walking in the street? The parents! And not by the curb, they were all over the street. Way to model good behavior! No wonder we have to keep telling the kids the same thing over and over, the parents apparently aren’t!

    Anyway, when my 17 year old came home he was so excited. He and a friend had decided to go TorTing and came up with a costume idea. He was the killer and the other boy was the killee (?). My son is so proud of the fake knife he made out of cardboard and aluminum foil! This is the first time in a long time he’s gone out, and they were back within an hour. He said he had more fun deciding on and making the costume than they did ToTing!

    About having the candy around, on Halloween we let the kids have a lot. Then it went into the pantry and got doled out after dinner for the next few weeks. The stuff nobody liked would get thrown out around Easter. Why aren’t parents in control of when their kids get candy? Mine never questioned it. I feel that for a number of the parents who have to buy back candy or have some fairy take it away, they are not in control of the house. Please step up and be a parent. Kids don’t die when they hear the word no.

  62. Selby November 1, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    I live in the northeast which took a wallop from a freak snowstorm over the weekend. Lots of towns without power, lots of towns with neighborhoods out of power. So yesterday morning, people started getting automated phone calls, “Halloween is cancelled.”

    Halloween is cancelled?! Since when does local government get to cancel a holiday? Were we suddenly in a Rankin/Bass special: the Night Snow Miser Stole Halloween? How do you explain this to kids?

    There were then follow-up automated phone calls letting us know that, “Trick-or-treating is postponed until Friday.” Uh-huh. Like that’s gonna fly. But we live in the age of instant communication. Word started going out on emails, texts, facebook and twitter: such-and-such neighborhood around X street has power, come trick-or-treat here. The Joneses are having a Halloween party, please come T-o-T on our block, we have power, and the come to our house afterward. The Smiths are driving over to another town to t-o-t, if you want to carpool, let us know.

    And Halloween proceeded and everyone had a very nice time. But now there’s this feeling of confused unease. What about Friday? Are people going to t-o-t on Friday? If your kid t-o-t’ed last night, do you let them go out again or is that overkill?

    The whole thing is very surreal. But at least I got my stash of Mounds bars. Not ONE bag of Swedish fish this year, I’m so disappointed!!

  63. Donna November 1, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    T-o-T was fabulous as always in our neighborhood. My daughter ran into a couple of classmates early on so we went around with them. Parents were in attendance, because the kids are only 5 and 6, but everyone walked and the parents stayed on the sidewalk while the children went to the houses by themselves. Only one obnoxious parent in the group who kept telling her child to stop running.

    Halloween is kinda like Mardi Gras in my town. We even have a Wild Rumpus Parade involving 2000 or so people marching through downtown in costume on the Saturday before Halloween (ending in a concert at a local club). Our neighborhood is filled with old houses, many decorated to the hilt (the 60’s car with smoke coming out of the engine and bloody bodies hanging out the windows is my favorite). Most people are outside to give out candy and many are dressed up. With parties, clubs and t-o-t LOTS of adults are out and about dressed up. It is difficult to say if the adults out with the kids t-or-t were there to supervise or there to show off their own costumes and socialize with friends and neighbors. I’m guessing a combo of both but it definitely doesn’t come off as helicopterish at all. It actually ends up making it more enjoyable community event.

  64. Dean November 1, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    Re: whether ToT is on Oct 31 or not – it is, here, and honestly, after the glorious Fri/Sat/Sun run we had the last three years, I hated it being on a Monday night. School night, start of the week, couldn’t stay out as late, etc. I’d be all for Halloween being deemed the last Sat in Oct or something, similar to how Thanksgiving and other holidays move with the calendar.

    Re: the cancellation of ToT due to snowstorms: seems like perhaps that wasn’t as sinister as governments acting as helicopter parents, but rather an attempt to make ToT as good as it would be without snow, power outages etc. – as in, by deeming it Friday (or whenever), people will all be prepped and it can be as festive as it would have been on Oct 31. Just saying, sometimes there aren’t evil, un-FR motives behind things like this.

  65. Lisa M November 1, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    My son received a bag of “homemade” popcorn from a STRANGER. We shared it while we were looking at all of his loot. It was a nice salty snack to go with all the sweet. I don’t know the people who made it or the cleanliness of their house. But we are still alive and well. Didn’t come across any MJ laced chocolate. Oh well, maybe next year.

  66. Cyndi November 1, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    I agree with Dean about the snowstorms in the NE. Why not wait for a better night? Not to mention there are a lot of power outages due to downed power lines. I say it makes more sense to wait and the towns are simply trying to give families a better Halloween experience.

  67. Jade November 1, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    I’m a massive fan of the free range kids idea and I try and give freedoms as much as I can but I’ve realised I only give them in pretty safe situations then I congratulate myself for letting them ‘roam’ when actually they aren’t really ‘roaming’, they just think they are. Honestly, even though I know all the statistics and all the arguments I still freak out when my kids are too long out of my sight.

    Take a day awhile ago for example, I went shopping in a rural town and my 7 year old asked if he could run ahead to the lolly aisle and choose his treat. Sure! Of course, you take ten million years to choose your treat anyway and I’m all for independence, so off you go!

    Yay me!

    15 mins later I’m running nervously up and down the shop looking for my son, horror stories running through my head, heart beating like crazy. Where the **** is he??

    I was emotionally petrified in that moment, the rational side of me knew he was probably just looking for me as I was looking for him but the irrational side was freaking out and about to cry.

    Anyway, I found him looking for me in the dairy section and all was well, I didn’t let on I’d been freaked out and we kept shopping.

    I know it’s ‘stupid’ and I’m very well educated on this whole subject but I still can’t shake the fear feeling when my kid is out of my sight for too long.

    Having said this, I will continue to let my children run off and have adventures, but I will be honest and tell you I’ll be freaking out the whole time.

  68. Greg November 1, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

    On Halloween it was still a bit early to go trick-or-treating so we went to the Library. I was sitting in my car waiting for my family (I already have enough books to read). A lady walked out of the library, got in her car and drove off. She got to the end of the block, made a U-turn and then returned to stop behind my car. I was dumbfounded when I looked into the rearview mirror to see that she was taking a picture of my license plate with her phone! Apparently something about me or my car had compelled her to believe that I was a pedophile or rapist.

    I felt violated–even threatened. Did she call the police and report me?

    This is the end result of all this seemingly harmless Halloween paranoia. This is what it does to the fabric of our society.

  69. Uly November 1, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    I feel that for a number of the parents who have to buy back candy or have some fairy take it away, they are not in control of the house.

    Other people feel that by doling out the candy little by little you’re turning candy from an occasional treat into a routine thing. Another day, another bit of candy, ho-hum.

    Buybacks and switch witches and sending them on to soldiers (soldiers don’t need their teeth, because they get free dental?) can be, for some families, a fun way to limit the candy (or to take it away if, say, the child has valid allergy concerns and really can’t have that candy, so by exchanging it they get SOMETHING out of the holiday).

    I see versions of this argument all the time. Just because you CAN put your foot down and Be The Parent in every single situation doesn’t mean you WANT to, or HAVE to. It’s possible to do something fun and less NO!!! for Halloween and yet still be firm on homework and hitting and swimming lessons.

    Like, my nieces are biracial, and their hair tangles easily. So, especially when they were smaller, it was braids all the time. Nice, neat braids, and lots of them because when you have very little hair big braids just don’t work. And people would go “Oh, I don’t know how you get her to sit still for it, and how you keep her from pulling them out!” and I would just shrug because I knew the answer but not a polite way to put it – we got the nieces to sit through hairdoing because it was a priority for us. If it had been a priority for these other people, they’d find a way to get it done too.

    But lots of things that were priorities for THEM weren’t priorities for US. Ana says a rude word? Well, I’d remind her not to, but I didn’t really care about it, so no time-out. Evangeline didn’t want to wear her shoes? I couldn’t care less. Let her go barefoot!

    The point I’m trying to make is that being lenient or goofy or fun in ONE area doesn’t mean you’re a lazy parent. It means you made a choice in THAT area. (And, accordingly, being overprotective in ONE way doesn’t make you a helicopter. Whether you have a good reason or not, everybody has one or two things they’re more cautious about. Hey, now I’m on topic!)

  70. Lori November 1, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    As a mother of a 3-year-old girl who was sexually molested by my day care providers teenage son, I’d like to take a moment to comment. Your entire blog is devoted to how “rare” it is that a child is actually kidnapped, molested, raped, murdered, poisoned, etc. Your research (although poorly sited) seems to back up your claims. Perhaps what happened to my daughter is the exception, not the rule. However, I would do anything possible to take back what happened to her, including having been one of your so-called “helicopter parents”. Perhaps I, and other parents are overdoing it a bit, but I’d rather overdo it and have a happy healthy child than deal with the grief and trauma of what has happened to my daughter. Perhaps the statistics say that nothing will ever happen to any of your children, perhaps nothing ever will. But for those of us to whom it has, your blog is patronizing and hurtful. Although, as I can see from the comments here, you seem to be “preaching to the choir” anyway. I only turned to your blog because if my best friend quotes one of your lines to me again, I may just have to scream. (Because sharing my hurt and grief is just too much for me to handle.)

  71. Uly November 1, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

    But for those of us to whom it has, your blog is patronizing and hurtful.

    Lori, tragic things happen to people every day. Every year in the US, some 740 people are struck by lightning. But nobody says “To say something is rarer than lightning strikes is hurtful to people who have been struck by lightning” because the fact is – lightning strikes are rare!

    What happened to your daughter must be devastating. But that doesn’t mean that we should all of us act like it happens to children all the time. The facts don’t change just because some people are very unlucky.

    Also, Lori, do you really think there’s something you could’ve done differently that would’ve changed the outcome? I assume you didn’t put your daughter in daycare for kicks, but because of necessity.

  72. Donna November 1, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    I don’t have a problem with sending candy to soldiers or giving it away someplace else. I do, however, with the switch witches and the like (except maybe for kids with allergies). Why do kids need to get something in exchange for giving away copious amounts of candy that they will never eat? The fun of trick or treating is in getting the candy and then consuming it in large quantities afterward. After a day or so, it just becomes junk food floating around the house.

    My daughter got enough candy to feed 10 kids daily treats for months. She knows that, within the next couple days (as soon as we have time), we will cull the candy – she will keep a small amount of her very favorites and I will keep a small amount of my very favorites – and the rest will go to my office for the office candy jar. Just like the cookies and cupcakes that she occasionally likes to bake. No exchange necessary; it is simply accepted that she has more candy than one child can reasonably eat and I have many people at my office to spread it around amongst. She feels proud to give things to others.

    If you are not going to let your children eat any candy at all, why not find something else to do for Halloween that doesn’t involve candy? You made the choice not to allow your children to eat candy; you need to own that choice and deal with the fact that that decision has implications for your children (again excepting allergic kids). If you are going to let your children eat some of the candy, why do you need to give them something to give up the excess?

  73. Stephanie November 1, 2011 at 11:24 pm #

    @Lori – I have to agree with Uly on this. It seems like on some level you are blaming yourself for what happened to your daughter. But (and this sentence is going to probably sound anti-free-range) just about ANYONE can be a child molester. The VAST majority of people aren’t, but most people who are molested are molested by someone they (or their parents) think they can trust. So what exactly would you have done differently? Never let your daughter out of your sight at all, even for a minute? Never let her go to school, or to a sleepover at her friend’s house? Never let her go to college?

    The absolute best thing you can do for your daughter is to help her deal with what has happened to her, and as she gets older help her develop the tools(knowledge, gut instinct) to take *reasonable* precautions avoid situations where someone might harm her. Teach her to defend herself if she finds herself in a bad situation despite those precautions.

    Life is inherently risky. You can never reduce that risk to zero, and trying to do so does more harm than good. The point of this site isn’t to advocate carelessness, but rather to advocate finding a balance that involves taking reasonable safety precautions while raising children who will one day be able to function without their parents.

    Again, no one here is in denial about the fact that bad things do happen, and generally speaking I think it’s safe to say that no one here makes light of those bad things. But it is important to have perspective and to not let our entire lives be ruled by fear.

  74. Filioque November 1, 2011 at 11:45 pm #


    My kids had a blast during trick or treat last night. One of our last houses belonged to a sweet elderly couple, and I noticed from the sidewalk that our kids were just standing there in their doorway. When I yelled and asked what was going on, my son told me the couple had run out of candy but that the lady was fetching a “special treat.” The kids came back, each with a melon ball-sized scoop of ice cream in a dixie cup, and they couldn’t be more delighted. I’m sure I won’t win mother of the year for letting my kids eat an “unpackaged” treat, but who cares? They loved it, and so did I.

  75. Heather G November 1, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

    Lori, not to minimize the suffering your daughter and you are going through, but would have helicoptering protected your daughter from her day care provider’s son?

    What happened is truly horrible. If you really look into the free range philosophy you will find that the focus isn’t on pretending things don’t exist, but understanding the real dangers so you can deal with real dangers appropriately. Listing teens who have sex with their teenage girlfriends along side the likes of your daughter’s molester make protections against molesters ineffective. Focusing attention on stranger danger takes resources and effort away from those who most often commit these atrocities.

    I agree that it sounds like at least part of you blames yourself. What parent wouldn’t, at least a little? But the reality is that blaming yourself or overreacting to potential dangers doesn’t make your daughter any safer. It also doesn’t erase what happened. If you haven’t already seen a counselor I would highly recommend it. Not only can they help your daughter deal with what happened but they can help you deal any unjust guilt you feel and give you strategies for moving forward to raise a happy, healthy, safe and independent little girl.

    I hope you and your daughter are able to find the strength and peace you deserve.

  76. Uly November 2, 2011 at 12:01 am #

    Heather, you said it better than I did or could. (Yes, I’m aware this is my second comment, but I know I sorta flubbed the first one a little.)

  77. Bernard Poulin November 2, 2011 at 12:22 am #

    There’s nothing like a dose of sane talk to bring back what is actually real in our lives. Thank you Lenora.

  78. Dolly November 2, 2011 at 5:19 am #

    LOL Robin. For me it is not a problem to limit what candy my kids get to eat. They will pester me a bit more about it but I can dole out a couple pieces a day no problem. For me the problem is I HAVE NO SELF CONTROL AROUND CHOCOLATE!!!! So the idea of tons of candy and cookies etc being in the house makes me depressed because I know I won’t be able to not eat it like a crazy woman. I am fine if it is not in the house eating only one dessert a day or so. But if it is in the house, I will eat it. So….I already consumed a bunch of the stuff with peanuts they can’t have last night. Now I have the several bags of leftover cookies from their Halloween party at school and the non peanut candy leftover I have to try not to eat. If it gets out of hand I might have to get rid of it.

    I totally admit that it is MY fail that I cannot control myself and that my kids have to get rid of their candy for me. But they get treats enough so I don’t worry too much about iit.

  79. Dolly November 2, 2011 at 5:23 am #

    Jade: Its okay. The point is you are trying and still letting him get that independence. I am the same way. I try to let mine be more independent and out of my sight etc more and more. Sometimes if I can’t find them I start freaking out. I think that is natural for moms like in our chemistry. The main point is I just try to calm myself and tell myself I will find him in a minute and I always do, thank God. You just have to do the best you can. Good luck!

  80. Dolly November 2, 2011 at 5:29 am #

    Lori: What others said was right. So how could you have done it differently? Not put your kid in daycare? That is about it. Maybe choose a different dayare provider? Tons of kids go to daycare everyday. That is probably not changing. So are you saying you regret working and you would have been better off being a stay at home mother? I mean I just wonder what you are trying to say here? What happened to your daughter is terrible and my prayers are with all of you.

    I just don’t know what you are saying is wrong with what we are doing compared to what happened to your daughter. I don’t send my kids to daycare. They go to preschool but that was not even till age 3 and only 6 hours a week. So my kids are with me more than your kids are with you. So what? I am still not a helicopter.

  81. Dolly November 2, 2011 at 5:37 am #

    wanted to clarify I am not saying that I am anti daycare or whatever. I am saying that what happened to her daughter was not a cause of free range so much as just daycare or at least maybe home provided daycare?. The point being she didn’t get molested while playing alone outside. Which is a free range thing. She got molested while at daycare. So I don’t know…to me it seems you would be more anti daycare than anti free range.

  82. talkaboutkidsissues November 2, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    keeping kids safe is really important, because unfortunately there are weirdos out there. I think being unafraid about the world is just as important. It’s finding the balance that is the really hard part.

  83. Cyndi November 2, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    Just wanted to clarify to some people that said what happened to Lori’s daughter is rare. It is NOT rare. Statistically speaking, 1 out of 3 girls will be sexually molested before their 18th birthday. (And most by people the child knows.) The most susceptible age group is 6-11. Here is a link since I know some of you always want links to back up what is said. 😉 http://www.speakingout-csa.com/ That being said, I agree that free ranging probably did not have anything to do with what happened to Lori’s baby, unless she was alone outside playing when the daycare provider’s son came over and grabbed her. We don’t know the details, so it’s hard to tell. But most likely, there was nothing that could have been done, except staying home to care for her rather than putting her in daycare, which, sadly, is not always possible. I’m very sorry for what your family has to deal with Lori, and I pray you will all find peace and be able to work through it.

  84. Robin November 2, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    Cyndi, sorry, but I don’t usually believe statistics that are from sites looking for money.

    Uly, you’re probably right, I was a tad too judgemental in my comment. Guess I was having a bad day. I apologize if I offended anyone.

  85. Buffy November 2, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    This is a heck of a lot of drama for something that is maybe 2-3 hours a year. Is it only because we are actually interacting with other people that all these rules are necessary?

  86. Uly November 2, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    ‘sallright. I went overboard too 🙂

  87. qtpies7 November 2, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    There is paranoia and then there is intelligence. I grew up in Phoenix and we did check our candy because there WERE incidences of someone putting a razor blade in candy.
    This YEAR, this Halloween, in my small town, there is a kid in the ER from being drugged in his Halloween candy.
    Yes, it IS happening. People, mostly it is safe, but it isn’t so safe that you don’t take precautions. And this world is a scary place and I am not going to stop protecting MY kids from predators 365 days a year. Because it isn’t worth it when it is YOUR kid who is victimized. I am not overprotective, but I do not let my kids run all over the town by themselves until they are 12. We do have a sex offender within 5 houses of us, and another within 3 blocks. I’m not going to let it happen to my kid when I can stop it.

  88. Uly November 2, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

    How did you hear about that poisoning case in your tow, gtpies?

  89. Will B November 3, 2011 at 12:27 am #

    @gtpies the fact that you know that there are sex offenders living in close proximity to you tells me that you have spent the time to look on the website for their locations. what a waste of energy please take a look at my prior post with the links on it and go look at the statistics you need to be more concerned about family members friends police officers teachers coaches etc. then you do somebody who is on that list your child is 500 times more likely to be killed permanently injured or disfigured in a car accident involving a repeat drunk driver than being touched by a previously convicted offender in fact the odds are better that your child will be struck by lightning

  90. qtpies7 November 3, 2011 at 12:49 am #

    I heard about the poisoning from someone at the hospital. It isn’t in the news yet. I don’t watch the news, so not sure if it has made it or not.

    I don’t allow my kids to be in a situation where they will be molested by family, either. It isn’t happening on my watch. My brothers don’t watch my kids. We’ve been very careful, while still having a life. I know my mom doesn’t molest kids, and my husband knows his parents don’t, so we keep them safe. Now several of my kids are teens and adults, and they never complain that they couldn’t do things or that they had a boring, over protective life. They are pretty happy and content to have not been molested. And it is not a waste of time to find out if there is danger in your neighborhood. You can’t assume that an offender won’t offend again because it is more likely to come from family or friends. Be smart all the way around, because it isn’t worth total freedom to have that terror in your family. I won’t be that mom who wonders where her kid is night after night after night, because he is kidnapped. Did you know that the sex slave trade is the LARGEST slavery numbers the world has ever seen? And did you know that the average age of those sex slaves are CHILDREN? How do they get those kids? SOMEONE’S kid is taken, and I for one am willing to be paranoid and to prevent MY child from being the one taken. There is a local politicians child who has been missing for 10 years, no one has a clue. I don’t want to be that mom.
    I will be paranoid and supervise. You can’t control the outside world, you can take precautions and just be smart in this unsafe world. Send them in groups, know where they are, supervise, sacrifice so they have a safe and HAPPY childhood. Those are my choices.

  91. Heather G November 3, 2011 at 1:06 am #

    gtpies- where do you live?

  92. KyohakuKeisanki November 3, 2011 at 1:10 am #

    Before last year, our house had about 3 kids coming every year. Last year it was about 8 kids. This year it was so many that I ended up sitting on the porch for some of the night… I estimate it at about 30 kids, give or take 10 or so. In the last six months I must say I have seen quite dramatic changes in a good way, at least in my own hometown of Tulsa, OK. Maybe it has something to do with the recent colder winters — after all, the 50s-70s were quite a bit colder in the USA than the 80s through mid 00s.

  93. Uly November 3, 2011 at 4:19 am #

    I heard about the poisoning from someone at the hospital. It isn’t in the news yet. I don’t watch the news, so not sure if it has made it or not.

    So it’s a friend of a friend. Does this somebody in the hospital KNOW it was a deliberate, random poisoning? Did they work on this child’s case themselves? Because that’d make exactly three in the last hundred years.

    (Three poisonings, that is. None of them were random – one was a coverup of a kid getting into his uncle’s cocaine stash, and the other was a dad trying to kill his own kids.)

    “And it is not a waste of time to find out if there is danger in your neighborhood.”

    Do you know exactly what these sex offenders were convicted of? Many of them are on the list, not for molesting children, but for either rape of a grown-up (still bad, but not child rape) or for “crimes” such as urinating in public, or having consensual sex with a minor… say, one just a year under the age of consent when they’re just a year past it.

    Did you know that the sex slave trade is the LARGEST slavery numbers the world has ever seen? And did you know that the average age of those sex slaves are CHILDREN?

    Actually, I did know that. And while it’s upsetting and tragic, I’m not too concerned about it in my life because they’re not taking American children. They’re taking children from third world countries, poor children and teens who are easily lured away or outright bought from the parents with promises of good, respectable jobs in the city, with plenty of food, a place to sleep, and even an education.

  94. Dolly November 3, 2011 at 4:47 am #

    No one is saying let your kids run wild. Or at least I certainly am not saying that. Supervision and being a present and involved parent is very important. You can do that and still be free range. Have your kid call you when he gets to his friend’s house he walked to a couple blocks away. That is not helicoptering. Making your 12 year old hold your hand and walking him to his friend’s house a couple blocks away, now that is helicoptering. Not knowing where you kid is or caring where he is, that is neglect. There is a happy medium.

    I am also with you about not trusting family members just because they are family. Only family member besides me and hubby that are alone with our kids is my mother. Rest of them get supervised.

  95. Dolly November 3, 2011 at 4:51 am #

    Wanted to add that the reason I monitor my family members is because I don’t completely trust them. We have some odd and crazy family members. It is about using your own intelligence to warrant whether someone is trustworthy or not. If you are not a good judge of character then err on the side of caution. If you are a good judge of character, then go with your gut.

  96. Cyndi November 3, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    Robin, since you need further proof, it took me about 2 minutes to find another site that in no way you could give money to. (In other words not long at all.)


    These statistics are EVERYWHERE. If you had taken time to google it you would have found it as well. It’s VERY common. It also has nothing to do with being free range. It has to do with with your kids being molested by people you KNOW, which is scarier, and something to talk to your kids about, once they are old enough to understand. Also trust your gut feelings. Sometimes those alone can prevent a tragedy from happening.

  97. Cyndi November 3, 2011 at 6:30 am #

    Ok, I just saw there was a place to donate money to help. Hold on……..

  98. Cyndi November 3, 2011 at 6:32 am #

    Ok. I can’t find a donation button on this one, so hopefully it will work for you, LOL. 🙂


  99. Claire53 November 3, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    Yes, I hear it all the time – 1 in 3 females, 1 in 4 on college campuses, and so forth. Although I am concerned that these numbers are a wee bit inflated, it really doesn’t matter whether they are or not. The question no one seems to be asking is WHY DO WE HAVE THIS PROBLEM?!?!? Whether or not the stats are accurate, we know that sexual assault happens frequently in general, and that most perpetrators are men. But people, don’t you see? We, we Americans, are a community, with a common culture. People who would harm children are a product of this society – they sure didn’t drop from outer space. It is NOT and US and THEM arrangement here, yet that’s the way we act. That is not reality. They (perps) come from us, what we value, what we advertise, and the way we teach people to behave. What about PARENTS? They are supposed to have raised their young men to be respectful, responsible, etc. I am a baby boomer. Weren’t we supposed to be more enlightened about communication and valuing women as people? How come baby boomers and their children still perpetrate these kinds of crimes? I would have thought the young women of the 60s and 70s would have raised their sons not to commit the same kind of acts of violence or disrespect against women that they were fighting against back in the day. Seems to me, if you don’t like the way things are, we have only ourselves to thank.

  100. oncefallendotcom November 4, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    Lenore I’m a bit disappointed. You should know by now the REAL motivation behind scaring kids with poison candy stories is so the parents can help themselves to the choice candies. Shame on them!

  101. Uly November 4, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    Oh, c’mon, oncefallen! I can’t let the kids eat it all, they’ll spoil their appetites and rot their teeth. It’s a sacrifice, but I must eat ALL their candy! *nomnomnom*

    (Actually did have to confiscate the candy yesterday due to serious misbehavior. I put it on a high shelf in case I reconsider after calming down, which I probably will… but we most likely will pare it all anyway.)

  102. Heather G November 10, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    qtpies- First I apologize for getting your name wrong. The typeface isn’t kind to underlined Qs. Anyway, I still ask where this happened. The only thing I have found that has hit the media in anyway clearly states that there is no police report filed on the incident. It seems the only source is Facebook. If you have information to the contrary I would like to know which law enforcement agency to direct my inquiry.

  103. Heather G November 10, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    Sorry, there is a second reported incident but despite the rumors, the police don’t believe the candy was poisoned and have said as much. It will be a few weeks until the toxicology reports confirm that. Still, the police are saying it’s not the candy and as only one child was harmed it is really unlikely to be a stranger poisoning kids’ candy.

  104. Jp Merzetti November 11, 2011 at 4:42 am #

    You know, the last time I ever sat outside by the front steps handing out candy and scaring the crap outa kids (with nasty-face punkins, slicked back hair and creepy shades) the very last kids to show up that night were two tall langy adolescent girls – one of whom was done up in a full French maid costume (this was long before they’d invented “cosplay.”)
    – which caused my buddy and I drop the glasses and eyeball each other with eyebrow question marks, as the two girls tripped along down the driveway and around the hedge. Safety?
    I’m sure they both made it home intact – back in the days when safety and silliness weren’t synonomous.

  105. Jp Merzetti November 11, 2011 at 5:13 am #

    qtpies – a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. At least three quarters (a low estimate – the numbers are hard to pin down, after all) of child sex-slaves – are third-world kids the “civilized” white folks don’t care about (unless sex-touristing in exotic locales.) We have more trouble here with state-sanctioned kidnapping – otherwise known as “child protection.” If you lived in Thailand or Bangladesh, you’d have a case. Real safety requires smarts – the kind that put the real evil in the spotlight, and forget about the bogeyman who isn’t in the closet. He’s just an ADHD distraction, after all – invented for fun and profit. A real community fights danger competently. A divided one is just a bunch of lonesome, inept castles, man and womaning the ramparts.

  106. Jessica November 15, 2011 at 4:20 am #

    The thing that really bugs me about the fear of candy thing is that it all has come from the rise of childhood obesity and diabetes. Which, yes, deplorable, but a big part of the reason *why* these rates are rising is that we don’t let our kids roam anymore! How are they supposed to get exercise??

    I’m sure some people are worried about child molesters and poisoned candy, but I think kids getting hit by cars is a bigger (and more logical) concern. It seems a little odd that this entry doesn’t even address this.

  107. cyndy November 15, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    I understand parents walking around with young children, and if it’s a beautiful day out, it’s fun. I was so surprised though to see older children…like 14…walking with a parent. really?


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