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Lenore Skenazy
Lenore Skenazy
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What to Really Be Afraid of on Halloween

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Happy Halloween! It's that time of year when your neighbors are secretly unwrapping candy, brushing lollipops with poison and inserting razor blades into Snickers bars!

Actually, though it may be a holiday tradition to view your neighbors as psychopaths who patiently wait for the one day of the year to kill the local kids, no child has ever been killed by a stranger's poisoned candy. Ever. But facts don't stop fear. Here are three ways in which our misguided terror on Halloween is killing all the fun.

1) Don't go outside. Parents are so scared of letting their kids roam free that — no joke — there's a trend called "trunk or treat." Cars gather in a circle, and kids go from one trunk to the next to grab candy, as if walking in a circle in a parking lot and collecting sugar is the whole point of the holiday. Sugar is important, but so is going outside on your own with your friends.

Some towns are so scared of the holiday that they've placed curfews on trick-or-treating. It's medieval. It's as if they really believe the ghouls come out at night.

2) It's too scary. There are schools, churches and community centers sending home notes begging parents not to let their kids wear costumes that are "too scary," as if kids can't handle an eyeball oozing blood anymore. One town even made a guy take down the zombie decorations in his front yard because they were too realistic.

In other words, they looked too much like real zombies?

3) Sex offender hysteria. In some towns, registered sex offenders have to turn off the lights to keep the trick-or-treaters away or gather together at the local precinct like some twisted version of study hall. The rules are different in different places. But they're all based on the idea that sex offenders pounce on trick-or-treaters — which turns out to be, like the poison candy story, completely false.

A recent study found that there is zero increase in child sex offenses on Halloween. In fact, one of the study's authors, Elizabeth Letourneau, now at Johns Hopkins University, said she and her fellow researchers considered titling the study "Halloween: The Safest Day of the Year," because it is, when it comes to sex crimes.

There is one thing to fear on Halloween: cars. More kids get hit by cars on Halloween than on any other day, for obvious reasons. There are more kids outside. So if we really wanted to make the holiday safer, we'd take the cops checking up on sex offenders and put them on traffic patrol instead, slowing down drivers or helping kids cross streets. That could save some lives — because cars are actually dangerous, unlike slightly torn Snickers bars.

Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker and author of the book and blog "Free-Range Kids." To find out more about Lenore Skenazy (lskenazy@yahoo.com) and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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