Thursday, October 28, 2010

Maybe We Shouldn't Worry So Much On Halloween

Posted By on Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Is poisoned candy something to be worried about on Sunday? The author of Free-Range Kids contributed an opinion piece to the Wall Street Journal which decidedly says no.

I grew up with a slightly paranoid mother (thanks for keeping me alive, Mom!) who demanded that the candy be inspected before I ate enough to make myself ill, and I have kids of my own, so I understand the feeling that the world is out to get children, and Halloween is the perfect opportunity to catch parents with their guard down, but apparently the rumors that sparked those fears were all untrue.

Lenore Skenazy writes:

Even when I was a kid, back in the "Bewitched" and "Brady Bunch" costume 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!

If my concerns didn't seem irrational enough, Skenazy quotes a professor who studied crime statistics from 30 states and concluded that Halloween is actually one of the safest nights of the year. So much for those concerns. I guess I can just stick to making sure my 3-year-old daughter doesn't accidentally see someone in a "slutty Elmo" costume.

Eat all the candy you want, kid, but there are some questions I'm not ready to answer.

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