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Trick-or-Treating is Hazardous to Your Health

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Guest blogger The Meanest Mom: There once was a time, not so long ago, when America's suburban neighborhoods were swarmed with trick-or-treaters on Halloween night. Those were the good old days when homeowners set up mock graveyards on their front lawns and passed out 60 lbs. of candy in 20 minutes.

mom waiting for trick or treaters thinking where are you?
Sadly, those days are long gone. This Halloween, many of the neighborhoods that once teemed with pint-sized ghouls and goblins -- including mine -- will be virtual ghost towns.

Where have all of the trick-or-treaters gone? 

No, they haven't grown up or moved away, but rather, they all have been moved to "safer" trick-or-treating venues like the mall, church parking lots and community centers.

Thanks to the overzealous media and a generation of hyper paranoid parents, trick-or-treating has become a life-threatening activity, tantamount in danger to riding a bicycle without a helmet or jumping into a swimming pool less than 20 minutes after eating lunch. 

While many people may criticize parents who won't let their children go trick-or-treating in their own neighborhoods, I for one applaud them. You are absolutely right: accepting candy from masked strangers standing outside JCPenney is much safer than taking a Snickers bar from the elderly widow down the street.

Thumbs up to you moms and dads who teach your children to fear the world. Suburbia is a very scary place, even more dangerous than an inner city ghetto. Your neighbors may seem nice enough, but you are right to suspect that the single man living two doors down spends every evening in October hiding razor blades in Almond Joys and injecting lethal doses of rat poison into Tootsie Rolls.

Because you never can be too safe, be sure to remind your children this Halloween that there are lots of scary people living in your neighborhood. 

Just don't forget to include yourselves on that list. 

Jana MathewsJana Mathews is the mother of "four under five" and the author of The Meanest Mom blog.

next: When Mommy's a Tomboy
10 comments so far | Post a comment now
Gilly September 27, 2008, 6:36 PM

Well … I’m both guilty and agree. So here is how I compromise: I make up a fake bag of candy filled with stuff I bought at the store myself and when we get home I switch them out and my son never knows. Nine now, he would prefer a party in our backyard though. I remember my five brothers and I running around our neighborhood on Halloween and nearly every house had the porch light on, at least a couple of decorations and more often than not you were invited in to bob for apples or choose your treats from a tray of homemade goodies. Yeah, I’m in my mid thirties so that was a while back but I sure do miss that feeling of family in the neighborhood. Neighbors brought homemade dishes when someone was sick, at a death, just because the mood hit someone to bake…
But like many parents these days, I see the news and I worry. There really ARE a lot of freaks out there with access to poisons, chemicals of a deadly nature and I’m not taking a chance with my kids life. So we trick or treat and then I do a switch. It’s the only way I have come up with to blend the longing for the “good old days” with the realities of today.

Anna September 27, 2008, 9:09 PM

just bring your kid to people’s doorways that you know, its not that difficult. Most kids make freinds at school and you can stop at their parents house. In my neigborhood growing up (it was the 90’s so it wasnt that long ago) We knew everyone on our block therefore there were no worries about “poison candy” and “razor blade snickers”.

pat September 28, 2008, 11:23 AM

This is funny. I take my kids trick or treating. we don’t go to the ghetto, we know the people on our street well enough, I check the candy just to be sure when they get home and I let them have at it. I loved trick or treating when I was a kid and I will not deny them the same right as a kid

Deanna September 29, 2008, 2:30 PM

I love the idea from Gilly, buying your own candy and swaping. However I am a big fan of trick or treating. I know just about everyone within a two block radius of my home so I take my kids down 2 streets and call it good. The only reason for fear on halloween should be the costumes not the candy! I say we bring back halloween and quit fearing this fun holiday.

Fernie Mum October 3, 2008, 6:08 PM

Where do you live? Halloween is full on happening where I live. We get close to 200 children some years. Not every house on our street participates, but most still do.
I suggest to anyone who is “worried” about this semi-holiday is to take a breather and stop watching the news, reading the papers and immersing themselves into the media - do you realize how many people live in the USA and Canada - the media DIVES into any “bad” headline they can get - you all know that - relax, take your kids trick or treating and have a fun night with them as a family.

Goddess Robin October 7, 2008, 2:14 PM

I take my 7 year-old trick-or-treating in our subdivision. We have lived here 2 years. We know our neighbors well enough to know that they would not poison our children. They have roots in this neighborhood, and the poisoning deaths of a hundred little kids and the subsequent criminal investigation might put a damper on them living here. In all seriousness, Halloween is really a time for us adults to help our kids face their fears, not teach them that the world is out to get them. They have their entire lives to learn that.

AF Dad October 9, 2008, 1:23 PM

When I lived on an Air Force base, I loved how everyone felt completely safe moving around during Halloween, especially with all of security forces keeping tabs on the kids (and parents). It was like the old days, with hundreds of kids coming by within a matter of minutes. The kids loved going to “Command Circle” where the senior officers gave out the bigger candy bars and treats. Just a couple of years ago, I bought over 30 pounds of candy…and had to go back for more! (We were better prepared for the next year) We even had hot chocolate for the parents who walked around. *sigh* I miss that, too.

Manda December 18, 2008, 5:12 PM

halloween is my absolute most favorite holiday of the year, and people have absolutely ruined it with fear. When I grew up we were taught to check out candy. If it was weird or opened it went in the trash. Taking away the candy and swapping it without telling them is just teaching them to trust strangers. We were only allowed to go within 2-3 streets of our house growing up,and that was usually enough. For the last 2 years now though instead of wasting my night with fewer children to pass out candy to, we throw a party the weekend before. This year we even invited the neighbors and their kids to walk through our wonderland of halloween fun and get some early halloween candy at the end. On Halloween we used to have 75-100 kids. This year fear had gotten most of the parents because we had maybe 20. Its sad it’s come to this, but I say BRING IT BACK! If you don’t know the neighbor or their house isn’t friendly feeling, don’t let your kids go there.

Whozat October 31, 2009, 10:24 PM

No child has ever been poisoned by trick-or-treat candy.

One guy poisoned his OWN kid (shudder) and set it up to look like a neighbor did it. That’s it.

Never happened.

There are 4 times as many kids hit by cars on Halloween, though.


Give the kid a flashlight, stick some reflective tape on his costume, remind him to look both ways, and have fun!

Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 12:49 PM

Great info. Nice to read. I’ve just got a opinion to offer about tee shirts.

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