Used with permission
By Earl Yarington . . .
I often wonder why we don’t dress our kids up as sex offenders. We dress them up as serial killers, witches, goblins, and other horrible monsters. We let our little girls dress up in fishnet stockings, short skirts, and heavy makeup. My own child wants to be a fallen angel. What is a fallen angel but a devil?
At first, the sex offender comment makes me a big jerk, highly offensive, yet if one calms down and thinks about it, why do we celebrate Halloween at all? And why are sex offenders worse than serial killers?
Isn’t Halloween about death? In our culture, people don’t die. They pass away. They depart. Or they come back to life as monsters. Making children monsters and zombies has a way of beautifying death, making it more fun and childish. Then there is the myth of the monster sex offender.
Yet, the last several years, just like clockwork, someone always publishes the Lisa French story, as Sandy Rozek communications director for the National Association for Reasonable Sex Offense Laws (NARSOL) notes. A horrible event that took place over 46 years ago, 9-year old Lisa French was trick or treating in Wisconsin. Gerald Turner abducted, raped, and murdered her. Ever since then, parents have been in fear. This is before sex offender registries. Yet, Rozek argues that when we look at the murderer’s history there would have been nothing that put him on a current-day registry.
Yet, every Halloween, several states require that those on the sex offender registry put signs up in their yards notifying children that a sex offender lives there. There are even sex offender maps, and police departments and parole offices have “lock-in” events to make sure these vicious diabolical monsters stay imprisoned in their houses, much like vampires in their coffins.
It’s not all that bad really since our “safe” neighbors have huge spiders, skulls, and bodies hanged from trees. The scary sex offender sign gives a nice, expected backdrop from a more deadly reality. It’s not the sex offender that is a danger to your child. Maybe Halloween is real after all.
In 2014, Jill Levenson wrote an article discrediting this Halloween-predator fixation. Such is important because Levenson has spent years as a researcher and advocate for child sex abuse victims. She knows better than anyone what risks children face, yet in her study of Halloween and crimes against children, she found less than 1% of crime was child-related.
In fact, according to NARSOL and Michael McKay from The Registry Report, they could not find one documented case since the French killing where a sex offender abducted or abused a child. Even if some of these cases were missed, we are addressing a 46-year period. Missed or not, such offending is very rare.
Yet, Levenson noted that children are “5-times more likely” to be hit by a car on Halloween and that burglary and vandalism are much higher during Halloween than any crime against a child. She notes her concern that pulling police away to watch for imaginary crimes keeps officers from real dangers such as kids being struck by vehicles.