JackolanternIt’s that spooky time of year again. Halloween is a candy-fueled holiday children often look forward to celebrating. Many dress in costumes, trick-or-treat with friends and neighbors and carve pumpkins with their families. It can also be spooky for parents as sex offender hysteria grows in intensity with every news story about the dangers of convicted sex offenders harming children on Halloween night.

A study conducted by several child sexual abuse prevention researchers sets the record straight about what parents should be (and shouldn’t be) concerned about.

How Safe are Trick-or-Treaters? Experts Weigh In.

Many states require convicted sex offenders to attend education programs the night of Halloween. They can also be prohibited from leaving their homes or opening their doors. They can be banned from costume parties and not allowed to decorate their houses. The belief is that these policies keep convicted sex offenders from making contact with children. It’s also believed that sex offenders could use costumes to hide their identifies. However, law enforcement officials note that Halloween policies weren’t developed because of a large or growing number of abuse cases. This study, “How Safe Are Trick-or-Treaters? An Analysis of Child Sex Crime Rates on Halloween,” looked at whether sex offenses, in fact, increase around Halloween and found no significant increase in risk for child sexual abuse.

Our Thoughts:

  • The idea that sex offenders are more likely to harm children on Halloween is simply unfounded. The data don’t prove it. Child sexual abuse is no more likely to occur on Halloween than on any other night.
  • The biggest thing to fear on Halloween night are drivers. Pedestrian accidents increase sharply around Halloween. Wearing reflective tape and accompanying young children are ways to prevent these accidents.
  • The best way to protect your children from child sexual abuse is through primary, prevention programs that are aimed at potential perpetrators and at improving the capability of adult guardians. Relying on children to keep themselves safe is the most typical but insufficient response to addressing child sexual abuse.