By Lenore Skenazy . . . A Boston Herald article is calling for a new Massachusetts law to stop registered sex offenders from participating in Halloween. Such a law would violate the rights of sex offenders, for no public benefit whatsoever.
The piece—as random as a piece can be, in that it is not tied to any actual news, crime, or person of note—quotes an attorney named Wendy Murphy, who states, “Halloween is like Christmas for sex offenders.” That’s a catchy phrase, but she never explains exactly what she means. Do sex offenders get gifts on Halloween? Gifts of children?
“They know they’ll have lots of access to kids and that they can’t get in trouble even though they’re required to stay away from children,” Murphy says.
That is simply not true. Murphy is repeating an urban myth that sex offenders snatch trick or treaters. No evidence of such a phenomenon exists.
“There is not a single recorded case of a child being abducted or harmed by someone on the sex offender registry during trick-or-treat or other Halloween activities,” says Sandy Rozek, communications director of NARSOL, an organization that advocates for saner sex offender laws. “And valid, reliable research shows no increase in sex crimes at all on Halloween.”
The temptation on Halloween isn’t to kidnap candy seekers, it’s to use the image of innocent, endangered children to create new fears and restrictions. Consider my post from Monday about the counties in Virginia that have made it a crime for kids over the age of 12 to trick or treat at all.
We have a really hard time distinguishing between actual Halloween dangers—being hit by a car—and non-existent but creepily thrilling ones, like being stalked by demonic child rapists when the moon is full and the wolves are howling.