Free-Range Kids

No Evidence Whatsoever That Sex Offenders Attack Trick-or-Treaters on Halloween

National Reform Sex Offender Laws challenges you to find a single example.

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Trick or treat
Monkey Business Images / Dreamstime

Sometimes you gotta think outside the trick or treat bag. So kudos to the National Reform Sex Offender Laws organization for tackling the persistent, unfounded myth that sex offenders lure trick or treaters to their doom on Halloween.

To help America move beyond this zombie-like fear that refuses to die, the organization is challenging the media to find even one case of a registered sex offender preying on a trick-or-treating minor.

Just one. Ever.

This challenge is in the vein of Joel Best's decades' long hunt to find any child who had been poisoned by a stranger's candy on Halloween. Just one. Ever. The University of Delaware sociologist scoured newspapers from as far back as 1958 to find stories of any child this had happened to. All he found was one boy poisoned by the Pixy Stix given to him by his father— after dad took out an insurance policy on the boy's life.

The father was found guilty of murder and executed.

Now RSOL group is pointing out that despite the news media's penchant for displaying maps of registrants' homes and warning parents about "places to avoid on Halloween":

RSOL's own research reveals absolutely no reports, past or present, of a random child being abducted or assaulted while engaged in Halloween activities by someone on a sex offender registry. Furthermore, according to Dr. Jill Levenson and a study done at Lynn University, no correlation exists between Halloween and an increased risk of sexual harm to children.

Sandy Rozek, RSOL's communications director, states, "I know what I'd like to see. I'd like them to put up a map showing all the places a child has been attacked on Halloween by a registered citizen. You know what that would look like? No dots – none."

She's right. That Levenson study looked at Halloween crime reports from both before and after laws were put in place that required registered offenders not to participate:

[T]he authors' findings indicated that there was not an increased rate of non-familial sex crimes against children aged 12 years and under on or just after Halloween. In fact, findings were invariant across the years – both prior to and after the restrictive policies became popular.

In other words, the laws requiring sex offenders not to answer their doors on Halloween, and/or to turn off all lights, or to spend the evening in the custody of law enforcement—none have had any effect, because they are preventing a crime that wasn't happening in the first place. RSOL shares this story:

As an example of how odd and useless these restrictions can be, a Kansas member of RSOL recently commented, "My son was notified today that he must report to his probation office from 6 to 9 pm on Halloween where he will be treated along with others on the SO registry to some kind of film. Here is the absolute insanity of this requirement. He lives with me, over one hundred miles from his probation office. I have lived in the country for 21 Halloweens, and I have never had a child at my door here in all those years to trick or treat.

And yet… off her son goes, a hundred miles each way.

These Halloween restrictions are worse than cruel and pointless—they are actually dangerous. Because while sex crimes do not go up on Halloween, pedestrian deaths do. Doesn't it make more sense for cops to be directing traffic that night than rounding up registrants?

You bet your sweet Skittles it does.

NEXT: A.M. Links: Presidential Election 8 Days Away, Clinton Leads Trump in Polls, Happy Halloween

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  1. All he found was one boy poisoned by the Pixy Stix given to him by his father? after dad took out an insurance policy on the boy’s life.

    The father was found guilty of murder and executed.

    Just so the insurance company wouldn’t have to pay out. Typical.

    1. You know it had to be those damned libertarians that did it too. Nobody is in the pocket of corporations like libertarians.

  2. These Halloween restrictions are worse than cruel and pointless?they are actually dangerous. Because while sex crimes do not go up on Halloween, pedestrian deaths do. Doesn’t it make more sense for cops to be directing traffic that night than rounding up registrants?

    Look, making registrants come in to watch a movie is easy. Directing traffic is difficult. What do you expect them to do?

  3. That means it’s OK now to buy the Celeste Guap costume at the kids section in Target for the little princesses.

    Happy Halloween!

  4. In other words, the laws requiring sex offenders not to answer their doors on Halloween, and/or to turn off all lights, or to spend the evening in the custody of law enforcement?none have had any effect, because they are preventing a crime that wasn’t happening in the first place.

    Or are they now preventing a crime that would suddenly start happening thanks to the Trump “do whatever you want to” presidential campaign? Think about it.

  5. I have lived in the country for 21 Halloweens, and I have never had a child at my door here in all those years to trick or treat.

    That one time they’d let it slide and let the son stay home could be the one time a kid shows up for candy. And further irony would be if that kid was one Halloween from retirement.

    1. I’m gettin’ too old for this shit…

  6. the organization is challenging the media to find even one case of a registered sex offender preying on a trick-or-treating minor.

    I’m terrified of how James O’Keefe would handle this.

    1. He’d go undercover, posing as a child, to bring you video evidence of the corruption of Halloween.

  7. For whatever reason, there were a lot of teenage girls trick or treating last night. I invited them in to bob for apples, but surprisingly, was turned down.

    1. Your apples’ skin has been circumcised. Nobody* wants to see an apple without its skin, kosher or not.

      *Dr. ZG, and urologists ’round the world, excepted.

  8. Look. We must have moars scary monsters that are out to get the chillins, period. How else can we create more hysteria so that we can start more witch hunts and make up new lists and laws?

  9. I never knew that this was a scare anyway.

  10. *looks up from inserting needles and drugs into candy*

    Yeah, sex offenders are like bad and stuff.

    *goes back to inserting needles and drugs into candy*

    1. Note: “Candy” is what I call Winston’s mom.

  11. “RSOL’s own research reveals absolutely no reports, past or present, of a random child being abducted or assaulted while engaged in Halloween activities by someone on a sex offender registry”

    See, it’s not working because there aren’t enough people on the list. We need more people on that list. The law must not be strong enough.

  12. Ah, but do you have evidence that they don’t?

    1. When it comes to protecting the children, the burden of proof is always on those who disagree with well-intentioned assertions.

      1. Reality doesn’t enter into it.

  13. What I am alarmed by is that the photo illustration sure does seem like it has a Child of Color wearing whiteface make-up in it, children appropriating Wiccan and Wampyre and Biologically-challenged cultures, plus some white (naturally) authority figure apparently luring the children into engaging in this sick behavior with sugar-poisoned “treats”. I’m so triggered I’m posting this from under the bed where I am currently curled up in the fetal position in my urine-soaked footie pajamas. How about a trigger warning next time, you insensitive louts?

  14. “The father was found guilty of murder and executed.”

    A part of me feels nostalgic when I read things like this. Am I a bad person?

  15. Yea, no kidding Lenore. In the three miles I drove to get home at 6:30, I noticed 8 cars without their lights on. This is at dusk – known to be the number one time of any given day for the most pedestrian/auto accidents. Meanwhile, like you stated, our police force decides it needs to knock on every registrant’s door instead of addressing the real dangers.

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