Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween, Part Two

This is the first year that my son feels he is too old for trick or treating. He'll stay home with me and answer the door. It will be a reverse rite of passage in some way. I feel both a sense of sadness about this marker as well as relief that I don't have to help him make a costume this year. The Martha Stewart thing is definitely not me.

But what I want to write about today is the news reports I have heard that there are several communities where registered sex offenders will be required to spend Halloween night at a community center. I would feel better about these programs if they were coupled with prevention messages to parents and children. But at least the way they have sounded on news reports is that they prey on people's fears of sex offenders while doing almost nothing to keep children safe.

Regular readers of this blog know that I have written a book on keeping children safe from sexual abuse. They also know that ninety percent of the time children are abused by people they know well -- family members, family friends, babysitters, coaches, teachers, and even religious leaders. Locking the registered sex offenders up for the night is not the answer.

Surely we do not want our children, tweens, or teens going into anyone’s home alone while they are trick or treating. Just because the person down the street is not on a registry does not mean it is safe for your child to visit them alone in their kitchen. How much safer children might be tonight if a parent/child education program had taught:
*Parents need to accompany children who are trick or treating.
*Older youth need to go in groups.
*Trick or treating should take place at the front door.
*Under no circumstances should children or teens enter inside people’s houses while they are trick or treating.

And don't forget to bring the flashlight and the box for Unicef.

Happy Halloween.

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