Again people are mucking with tradition.
The fear mongers of the world are feeding our fears and preying on our instincts to protect our children. They want us to attend their usually religious-group-sponsored events instead of trick or treating.
Trunk or Treating usually works with a large church parking lot. Families pull their cars in and open their trunks and kids walk around and ask the parishioners for treats. People feel safer going to these because the other parishioners aren’t strangers and religious folks are trustworthy and will protect our children, right?
You could attend one of these and supposedly feel like it’s safer for your children.
The fear mongers want you to believe that their treats are safer than the stuff strangers will hand out. The classic razor blade in the apple scare is brought up.
Historically speaking, there have been only a handful of documented cases of strangers causing harm to children using Halloween treats as the vehicle of doom. By handful, I can find 5 actual examples, ever. Most of them were in the 60’s.
The razor in the apple? In most cases, the kid fessed up to putting it there themselves or the parents put it there to get media attention. That’s right, the most likely people to tamper with your kids candy live in your house. The only documented death from eating tainted Halloween candy – the kids father did it for the insurance money.
Criminologists will tell you that almost never will you see a sociopath perpetrate a crime they cannot themselves witness the results of. The only documented case in history of random unwitnessable violence is the Tylenol poisonings of the 80s.
Statistically any given person has only about a 0.5% chance(1 in 200) of being a victim of violent crime over the course of a year. This statistic includes people who are not physically hurt but potentially mentally affected by a threat of physical violence. This simple statistic doesn’t mention that lifestyles or criminal activities can affect these odds. But if you’re a normal person living a normal life, your odds are significantly lower that you’ll be a victim of a violent crime. Unless you live in Detroit, Violent crime rates do not spike on Halloween.
And there are things every parent should be doing to mitigate the threat of random violence to their offspring. Two simple things will cover all non-familial Halloween threats: Don’t let your kids Trick or Treat alone and check their candy.
Younger kids should have an adult with them. Hint: If the kid is old enough to not have an adult with them, they might be too old for Trick or Treating. Okay, some teenagers still like to Trick or Treat. But, of these, how many want to go it alone?
Checking candy is easy. Most candy these days comes in sealed packages. If you squeeze the package and feel air pressure inside holding, no one has stuck a needle into the package. Avoid homemade treats from people you’re not close to. Popcorn balls and rice crispy treats go straight in the trash. Again they’re most probably fine, but there’s enough other candy that, as parents we can be a little paranoid.
Apples – if you’re unsure of the source, toss ’em. I learned by watching Firefly that you can detect tampered apples by dicing them before eating.
Trunk or Treating is not the end of the world, but the fellow parishioners are not really and different on a trust level than your neighbors. In both cases it’s not hard to track the candy back to the source so it’s not a crime an intelligent criminal would commit. I mean really – how hard is it to find a criminal if the site of the crime was his front door? It could just as likely be the trunk of his car in a church parking lot. The odds of either one is pretty much zero.
Other than fostering a culture of fear, and not the fun kind usually associated with Halloween, the downsides of Trunk or Treating include less exercise to burn off the twenty thousand and nine calories you will gain from stealing your kids candy. The decorations of people’s trunks are not usually as fun as the decorations at home. And the biggy: The religious literature factor. There’s always a chance that a house will be giving out religious pamphlets or even new testaments for Halloween, but attend a Trunk or Treat event and you’re sure to get some.
I say there’s nothing wrong with augmenting the stash with a little Trunk or Treating, but go door to door too. In addition to the exercise, you’ll get to meet those neighbors you only see once a year now that we all have Facebook. Don’t let the church groups replace the healthy fear of ghosts and demons with an unhealthy fear of society.