"Halloween: The Safest Day of the Year"


Lenore Skenazy on Halloween fears:

I wanna rock!

As a panel of "experts" on the "Today" show warned viewers recently: Don't let your children trick-or-treat without you "any earlier than [age] 13, because people put on masks, they put on disguises, and there are still people who do bad things."

Perhaps there are. But Elizabeth Letourneau, an associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, studied crime statistics from 30 states and found, "There is zero evidence to support the idea that Halloween is a dangerous date for children in terms of child molestation."

In fact, she says, "We almost called this paper, 'Halloween: The Safest Day of the Year,' because it was just so incredibly rare to see anything happen on that day."

Why is it so safe? Because despite our mounting fears and apoplectic media, it is still the day that many of us, of all ages, go outside. We knock on doors. We meet each other. And all that giving and taking and trick-or-treating is building the very thing that keeps us safe: community.

Elsewhere in Reason: The Passion of the Pumpkin.

NEXT: Pity the Rich Incumbent

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  1. a panel of “experts” on the “Today” show

    Now that’s frightening.

  2. Make sure to have your candy x-rayed to avoid all those razor blades and needles.

    1. I remember those rumors from childhood (70’s – 80’s). Also the rumors that candy that is laced with PCP, LSD, even cyanide.

      1. the deadliest thing in the candy is the…sugar! And the fat! And the addictive quality of things that are deadly yummy!
        I am thinking the most empty calories are in the candy corn…which I love. Don’t eat it children…Its bad!!! Deposit it upon my doorstep and I will make the ultimate sacrifice of getting fat and pimply to save you!!!

        1. OMG! They’re lacing halloween candy with sugar!

      2. Who would waste their drugs on bratty little kids?

        1. That’s what I was wondering.

      3. I used to check my girlfriend’s kid’s candy on Halloween back then. 🙂

        Never really found anything except a few suspicious looking holes thru the chocolate bar wrappers that were about the size of a needle.

        No saying anything other than that, so don’t beat me up. 🙂

  3. I send my kids out with a tacklebox so that they can partition each house’s candy into separate compartments. I then have them eat each compartment separately and then run them through an MRI machine, that way I both know who gave them candy with metal in it and punish my kids for trusting strangers.

    1. \m/ METAL! \m/

  4. Safer than Independence Day.

      1. So Google Image search with SafeSearch at moderate will let me look at blown off bits of people’s hands, but uncovered breasts are, so to speak, immoderate.

        This is a weird world.

        1. It’s weird, but I understand the logic to it. There is a widespread feeling that the dangers to public morals and sympathies are the attractive ones, and that the unattractive ones are inherently self-limiting.

    1. Especially ideologically.

  5. Is it wrong to chuckle at the juxtaposition of the name Letourneau with the phrase child molestation?

    1. I was thinking the same thing. Why would I want to trust this woman with this unfortunate name?

  6. I used to get a fog machine cranked in my front hallway, shine a bright light down the hall towards the door, and open the door in black slacks and turtleneck and wraparaound sunglasses. I’d open the door really fast so the fog plumed outward and say “Good evening, citizens.”

    Nothing means Halloween to me like the smell of a nylon Princess Jasmine costume being shit in.

    1. I was sh*tting just at the turtleneck…

      1. You should see me in my Nick Gillespie costume. All the gay talk show hosts in the neighborhood just swoon…

    2. I wouldn’t make fun of the little girls, hipsters scare the shit out me, too.

    3. Well that Steve Jobs costume is frightening!

  7. MayDay is even safer! Workers of the world, unite!

  8. I swear, the baby boomers want to take every single thing that they enjoyed as kids and poison it for their own offspring. Wear that bike helmet, bitch!

    1. I heard all this shit when I was a kid. Moral panics are always present when people are enjoying themselves, kids are just a bonus.

      Not one intentional poisoning of a child with Halloween candy by a stranger has ever been recorded. Not one. But it’s been going around since at least the 50s.

      1. I actually did get a rock back in the years when Charlie Brown first aired. It was a little piece of slate wrapped in paper. I thought it was home-made fugde.

        1. That sucks. We never have a lot of trick or treater (kids are dumb, my neighborhood would hook them up with the high-priced candy) so I always give out the good stuff. Fun-sized Snickers, Milky Way, Reese’s Cups. No mung at my house.

          1. I always give out the good stuff as well. I get the little chocolate bars, but give three or four at a time.

            1. I’m becoming an old fart. I give a couple to the younger kids, but when you’re taller than me (I’m 6′) and you ring my door bell after I’ve turned off my porch light, I’m giving you a razor for Halloween. Not hidden inside a candy bar, but so you can shave your stash. Your high school football uniform is not a costume.

          2. I give out full size and/or king size candy bars. The neighborhood kids talk about it for weeks. Some of the remember it for years.

    2. The very last and youngest of the Boomers are now 46 years old. It’s the following generations who have the most kids of trick-or-treating age.

      1. This may be why over the last decade or so, trick-or-treating has boomed in my neighborhood. I was born in 1954, my sister in 1957, and it was never this popular when we were kids. I’m in the Bronx, much less than a mile from where I grew up.

      2. Sorry, but the boom peaked in 1960 and slacked off from there. The youngest are 50.

        1. 1964 is the last year of the Boom. I stand by my math.

    3. I wish all of those things the boomers fear really did kill them off. Perhaps social security and medicare wouldn’t be in such a crisis if there were fewer of them who had died as children from a razor blade laced tootsie pop.

      1. Yay class warfare!

    4. You need to remember that the “boomers” are actually two (perhaps three) culturally distinct groups that ran back-to-back.

      The first group ran from 45 to the early 50’s. This is the group that tuned in, turned on, and dropped out only to become the most aggressive nannies to walk the face of the earth.

      Being a mid-boomer (born 1957), I’ve spent my whole life hating their guts for consuming everything in sight and then laying their guilt trips on the rest of us.

      My younger siblings (born 1960 to 1964) have absolutely nothing in common with the first wave of boomers.

      1. This.

        Culturally, the boom was over around 1955 at the latest; basically, anyone coming of age in thelate 60’s-early 70’s. I was born in 61 and have nothing in common with boomers, as do most of my littermates.

        1. Wikipedia has a nice graph showing the huge ramp up of birth rate post WWII, holding steady during the 50’s, then dropping back to 1945 levels by 1964.

          So the “boom” was defined by birth rate. But it also spanned 19 years of radical social change.

          Almost everyone equates the “culture” of those folks that became adults in 1964 to 1971 with the boomers. But in reality that’s only about a third of the babies born between ’45 and ’64.

          The first boomers got sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. I got Jimmy Carter and the “malaise” speech.

          1. That’s OK, the 60’s sucked, except for the cars and the Moon landings.

            We killed disco and got punk, Animal House, Star Wars, The Odd Couple, Barney Miller and naked Phoebe Cates. The 60’s begat Nixon; the 70’s begat Reagan. They had 8-track; we had Walkmans and CDs. Our cars sucked, our space shuttles blew up, but we still came out way ahead.

            Hey, we had a nuclear accident that had Jimmy Carter shuffling around in his little yellow booties. All the 60’s had was a prolonged, shitty war that made LBJ cry.

            1. And VCRs! How could I forget that?

              In-home porn trumps anything a smelly hippy ever did.

  9. My Halloween candy tradition doesn’t involve dressing up, but I do put on the 12″ single version of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” but on 33 1/3 rather than 45. Murphy croaking out “I’m dead, I’m dead, I’m dead” always makes the kids get wide-eyed.

    1. You would listen to Bauhaus, wouldn’t you.

      1. Yes, even to the point I have it on vinyl ! Dun-Dun-DUN!

        1. My mom knew this guy in college who played a Beatles 45 vinyl record backward at 33 1/3 that way for Halloween. Since it was a recording of a live performance, it had all the screaming and cheering from the audience on it; she said it sounded like the shrieks of the damned when you played it that way. It added just the right atmosphere to the decorating of his frat house to make it seem like a haunted house.

      2. It’s fucking Halloween. Are you listening to Arcade Fire?

        1. God no. French Canadians give me hives.

          1. How can you tell with that greasy skin, ya frikkin’ wop, ya?

            1. I’ll have you know I am only part WOP. What the fuck are you, some kind of Mick?

              I’ve been loving all the racism in Boardwalk Empire. Great stuff.

              1. Chalky needs some more appearances.

                1. Omar comin’.

              2. Micks and wops propensity for hatefucking probably explains your relationship with SugarFree.

                1. We don’t hatefuck. We hatemakelove.

              3. Not a good as Deadwood, but pretty damn fine show. Micks, and dagos, and darkies . . . what’s not to like?

          2. sweet I give you hives

        2. Epi only listens to EXTREME music that takes it toTHE MAX.

          His whole life is one long Mountain Dew commercial.

          1. A little defensive about the Bauhaus, then?

            1. Dumped a chick for taking me to a Nails concert, and found out too late that Bauhaus was the opener. Her boobs weren’t big enough to make up for that one.

          2. On coke.

            You would leave out his most redeeming quality.

          3. As much fun as it is to rip on Epi, I’d have to disagree. Unless they edited the part where the guy snorts a line off the “model’s” ass out of the commercial.

            1. Fucking Ska, always ahead of me.

              1. I thought you liked sloppy seconds.

                1. You’re getting me confused with your own sordid prose. I like Japanese girls. Nothing weird about that.

                  1. We did you post a pic of a Japanese Farmer’s Market?

    2. I always thought Murphy was singing “Undead, undead, undead.”

  10. On Halloween, I’m going to put on a mask, and a disguise, and fuck every kid who wanders onto my porch. I mean, my identity will be hidden twice. What else could I do?
    I’m not happy about it. A lot of you people’s kids are unfuckable. They’re fat and smell like piss and they have stupid questions.

    “Does that have nuts in it? Mommy says I’m allergic.”
    “Your Mom’s insane. Try deez.”

    But even the thinnest semblance of anonymity carries the obligation to fuck the kids. All the kids. All night, yo.
    I’m tired just thinking about it.

    1. but you are at your house, you need to fuck them somewhere else, man. they might be able to trace your residence to you.

      Hearing that not a single kid has ever been poisoned by halloween candy kinda disappoints me. Not one? I guess there aren’t that many sick fucks out there. Meh.

      1. “By a stranger” is an important part. One child was poisoned by his own father with laced Halloween candy, and another child ate his uncle’s heroin stash and the uncle claimed it was Halloween candy.

        1. To be honest, poisoning children is kinda hard to pull off, what with the individually wrapped “fun size” popularity. The payoff is pretty terrible too.

  11. But that’s impossible because libertarians hate community.

    1. What are you talking about? I love that show.

      1. You’re confusing it with Glee

  12. So instead of claiming that right-wing apolgetics is, you know, really sort of left wing, Jesse decides to cite banal observations about over-the-top risk aversion. Doesn’t somebody point this out every fucking Halloween? Jesse, get a real job.

    1. Spoof Max better or not at all! There wasn’t even one reference to cock-sucking!

  13. I’d go as Max on Halloween, but I’d have to explain (OVER, AND OVER, AND OVER) the difference between Max and an ordinary steaming pile of dog shit.

    Too much work.

    1. You are just lazy. Everyone already knows that even an ordinary steaming pile of horseshit has more worth than Max. So it would be visibly obvious.

      Of course, the best way to go as Max is to dress up like someone who always puts the gun in his mouth, but never has the self-honesty and integrity to pull the trigger.

  14. The most important question on Halloween is, of course: is it racist? Your friends at Gawker have a handy guide. The short answer is: yes.

    1. Twenty years ago, back in my high school German class, we spent the first 5-10 minutes of every hour writing (in German) in a journal. One day near Halloween, we were supposed to write about dressing up for Halloween. I wrote that I was going to get a female friend and we’d dress up as Al Sharpton and Tawana Brawley, complete with racial slurs scrawled over her.

      For some reason, people found this offensive.

    2. That was just an excuse for Gawker to put up pictures of sexy ladies, so I applaud them for that.

      But that last one looks like it’s a wig to dress up as Antoine Dodson of “Bed Intruder” fame. I fully support that costume.

      1. You could always get a Don King wig instead.

        1. Don King is passe. But Antoine Dobson is the real deal. I admire the guy for making the most of this situation and being honest about it.

    3. What, you mean someone could take offense at my SS Obergruppenf?rher costume? Posh.

      Seriously, though, I went to a Halloween party in the mid 90’s where there were a few guys dressed up in Nazi costumes. I thought it was tasteless, but I didn’t say anything. Later, when a couple took off their caps and showed their skin heads, I realized they weren’t really “costumes”. I didn’t stay long after that.

  15. You are just lazy.


    Yes, I am.

  16. Why is it so safe? Because despite our mounting fears and apoplectic media, it is still the day that many of us, of all ages, go outside. We knock on doors. We meet each other. And all that giving and taking and trick-or-treating is building the very thing that keeps us safe: community.

    In other words, Halloween is safe because enough people do what “experts” on the “Today” show suggest. Going outside with their kids.

    If everyone did the opposite of what the Today show suggested, it would be more dangerous for kids.

    Reason can be so dumb sometimes.

    1. If the Today guests had simply said it is sometimes wise to join your kids when they go trick-or-treating, you might have a point. But of course the quote contains much more than that.

  17. A thought just occurred to me. I wonder if perhaps we are not looking at all figures of the risk analysis of parental fear; that, in fact, parents are quite justified in their concern, because the costs associated with not being overprotective, relative to the chances of anything happening, are higher than we think.

    Why do I say that? Well, what happened a few decades ago? Something happens, kid dies. That’s a pretty big cost, to be sure, but that was about it. Now? When your kid succumbs to some really unlikely fate, you’re hauled before national television and berated by the likes of Nancy Grace and Megyn Kelly. And you’re berated even more if you refuse to show up on their show. Being massively, harmfully overprotective seems to pale in comparison…

    1. Cool, let’s talk risk management. Your child is several orders of magnitude more likely to be killed in your car during an accident than to be molested by a stranger on Holloween.

      So what’s your cost/benefit analysis for parents freaking out over Holloween?

  18. You are all forgetting that we wouldn’t have Halloween and trick-or-treating if it weren’t for GOVERNMENT ROADS!

    1. They sure don’t celebrate Halloween in SOMALIA!

  19. Might be safe, but I’m still keeping my black cat indoors for the night.

  20. Wiccapedia (n): What makes Halloween dangerous.

  21. This has nothing to do with anything, but I did see one medically interesting/freaky thing one halloween. Late 90’s, ER in Buffalo, NY, they bring in a kid who is having an asthma attack. Bottom line is, his parents didn’t want him to go trick or treating because it was cold and wet and he had bad asthma. Kid snuck out anyway, went door to door, but figured his parents would conficate his loot. So, between houses, he ate whatever he got. Made a huge tour of the neighborhood, too.

    So, now he returns home, and of course he is wheezing and having trouble breathing. Parents know what to do, pack him up and bring him into the ER. Fairly routine for him; everyone in the ER knows him. The team gives him the once over, realize he is in dire straits, and decide to intubate right there.

    Unfortunately, as they are prepping and he is laying on his back, looking up, the kid goes Vesuvius. Reddish-brown fluid sprays up, pieces of half-chewed candy bars come tumbling out, and everyone on the team takes about ten steps back. Couple of the team members got sprayed.

    Kid did fine. Otherwise smart kid, who wanted to be a respiratory therapist when he grew up, so he could help others like him. I hope he succeded, and one day lives down his nickname: “Chocolate Volcano”

    1. Your parents knew best after all.

  22. What’s all this talk about Halloween?

    According the he-spawn’s school, it’s “Harvest Day.”

  23. This made “best of the day” in my business journalism blog this morning, even though it isn’t really about business. It’s just that good.

    Post is here:

  24. WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the safest day of the year, are you blind….. No! its a day of satan and thats what he wants you to think… its a day of ghosts, witches, goblins, and grotesque creatures, this so called “spirits” are demons. Witches and wizards called Oct 31st, “nature religion” which is known as “wicca” and on that day they did there rituals, magic, spells, etc. The weird thing about it is that they dont believe in Satan but yet, he is the one that gives them the experiences they have and deceives them into thinking it is the forces of nature they are tapping into. They are blind, and many Satan worshipers on this day murder humans, or animals for rituals, and you think that it has not been proven, if there is religion, there is still satan worshipers and this people have to keep on with their so called religion, and maybe their is no prove but because satan wants to trick you into not finding the evidence. We as People think we know everything, we think it is us that fix things and make them up but its not like that it is God, and if its not good it is Evil in which Halloween is the day of Satan and demons.

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