By C.J. Ciaramella . . . A small-town Georgia mayor plans on confining the town’s sex offenders to city hall for Halloween night, despite evidence that there’s no spike in sex crimes against children on the holiday.
“In order to ensure the safety of our children, all sex offenders in the City of Grovetown area will be housed in the Council Chambers on Halloween night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.,” Grovetown mayor Gary Jones announced on Facebook Monday morning. “There are approximately 25-30 offenders and they will be overseen by 4 officers from Georgia Probation Department and one Grovetown officer.”
The policy will only apply to offenders who are on probation, not all registered sex offenders in the town (a move that would have almost surely been illegal).
In any case, the move is yet another hysterical response to a largely mythical fear: the incurable and irrepressible pedophile who targets random children on Halloween.
The thing is, data just doesn’t back up those fears. Study after study has found that same-crime recidivism rates for sex offenders hover between 3 and 4 percent, lower than other types of crime and nowhere near the 80 percent rate once falsely cited by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, for instance.
As Reason‘s Lenore Skenazy recently wrote about Patch.com’s regrettable tradition of publishing the addresses of sex offenders on Halloween, there’s also no evidence that sex crimes against children rise on Halloween:
[A] thorough study of 67,000 cases of child molestation found zero increase in sex crimes against children on Halloween.
The vast majority of crimes against children are not committed by strangers, but by people close to the kids. Stranger danger is actually pointing worried parents in the wrong direction.
What’s more, sex offenders are not especially likely to go after kids on Halloween. Contrary to popular belief, “across the board the majority of sexual offenders do not go on to reoffend,” says Jill Levenson, a professor of social work who has studied Halloween crime.
“The research is very clear: There’s no increased risk to children on Halloween,” says Sandy Rozek, communications director for the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws. “Virtually all sexual offenses against children are committed by those in their lives, those they already know or are close to—often family members, peers, and authority figures.”