Halloween Crimes are the Stuff of Legend

Poison candy, razor blades in apples, Satanic rituals, hatchet murders, and Michael Myers--these Halloween terrors often spook children and adults, but most of these Halloween crimes are simply urban legend. Some have their roots in truth, but have been inflated in the public imagination. Others are completely fabricated and passed off as truth in order to have a good campfire tale on a dark and stormy night. Some parents are concerned that sex offenders may be lurking behind closed doors, gleefully awaiting the night when children are quite literally delivered to their doorsteps. While some states have passed sex offender laws forbidding registered sex offenders from participating in trick-or-treating and requiring them to post "No Candy" signs on their doors to keep children away, at least one study shows that children are no more likely to be molested by a sex offender on Halloween today than they were prior to the 1997 enactment of the Jacob Wetterling Act requiring sex offender registration. But what about abductions? With so many children wandering the streets, isn't it easier for a predator to kidnap one? According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, of the nine non-family abductions that took place from October 29 through November 1 over a five year span, not a single kidnapping had any apparent connection to trick-or-treating. Certainly, there are crimes that are committed on Halloween. Rapes, murders, assaults, kidnappings--these happen every day in Oklahoma, and Halloween is no exception. However, typically, these crimes are committed for the same reason they are committed any other day of the year, and they are not perpetrated because of the holiday itself. Halloween parties in which too much alcohol is consumed can be catalysts for assault and battery, rape, or other sexual assault. They are also significant contributors to DUI. On Halloween, a child is twice as likely to be struck by a car as on any other night of the year, making a pedestrian accident the greatest risk to a child on Halloween. Drunk driving exacerbates the risk of being involved in a fatality accident, and therefore it is perhaps the deadliest Halloween crime. One of the most enduring myths about Halloween dangers is the poisoned candy. Parents vigilantly inspect candy and even take it to be x-rayed at emergency rooms, but the risk of being poisoned by Halloween candy is virtually nonexistent. The urban legends about poisoned candy and needles in candy center around a few real events that have become overblown tales of Halloween danger. In 1974,  8-year-old Timothy O'Brien died after eating a cyanide-laced Pixy Stix. The culprit, however, was not some stranger, but rather Timothy's own father. According to this article, there have only been about 80 cases of foreign objects in food since 1959, and virtually every case was a hoax. While it is always best to exercise caution, the risks of being a crime victim on Halloween are no greater than any other night of the year. Take proper precautions for your safety and that of your children, but don't be held hostage by unreasonable fears. Have a safe and happy Halloween.

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