By Sandy Rozek . . . Across America this Halloween, and in the weeks preceding it, massive campaigns were underway to protect children from persons on sexual offense registries. Efforts ranged from “house arrest” jail detention for those on parole or probation during trick-or-treat hours to signs placed in yards and on homes and maps printed with dots showing where registered persons lived, all warning young Halloweeners away from those homes, to rigid laws about what and where those on a sexual offense registry could or could not do or go or be, with massive numbers of law enforcement dedicated to verifying that those conditions were being met and arresting any who were not in compliance.
I am happy to report that the efforts paid off. No child anywhere was reported as being abducted, molested, or otherwise harmed by a registered person in connection with Halloween activities.
Of course, that is true in the states and jurisdictions and counties where no such efforts were undertaken, not a penny was spent, and persons on the registry, just like all other citizens, could do or go as they pleased. But still . . . no children harmed. And of course, that has been true, as far as anyone has been able to determine, going back as many years as records have been kept, long before “Protect the children from predators at Halloween” became a “thing.” No children harmed on Halloween by a registered sexual offender. Ever.
Of course, children were harmed. Researchers and experts warned that the only increased danger to children on Halloween was that of being killed or injured in auto-pedestrian accidents, and, as experts tend to be, they were correct.
Two children were killed by automobiles in North Carolina and in California, one of them dying with his mother and father when an intoxicated driver leapt the curb and mowed them down on the sidewalk as they huddled together.
Four others, one with his mother, were injured, two critically and still in very critical condition as of this writing, in New Jersey and in South Carolina. Another was very seriously injured in Florida and, thank God, is expected to recover, and yet another was hospitalized with internal injuries in a separate accident in the same county in New Jersey.
There may well have been others.
So our efforts to protect against registered sexual offenders, thanks to the noble efforts of many, succeeded, but, and in spite of warnings and cautions, we fell short in the automobile-pedestrian arena.
We must extend our diligence to protecting all children. On Halloween, all driving must be suspended. Persons needing to get to work for evening hours will need to arrange to get there well prior to trick-or-treat time and under no conditions will be allowed to leave for home unless they will walk or bike. Buses, taxis, and all other public transportation that is vehicular must cease for trick-or-treat hours. Their lost income is a small price to pay for young lives saved.
Anyone confronted with emergency situations, such as needing to get to a hospital or emergency room, will need to wait until at least midnight to be sure that no trick-or-treating children remain on the streets. The same will apply to the need for fire department services, whether for medical emergencies or for actual fires. And police response, for those hours, will be limited to foot, bicycle, and, where available, horse.
A few hours of pain and being in crisis or a burned home or waiting to have a crime investigated — or prevented — are surely sacrifices worth making in order to assure that no child is ever again killed or injured by a driver Halloween evening.
The defense for implementing some of the most outlandish conditions against those on the registry is often, “If it saves one child.” Statistics bear out that taking vehicles out of the equation on Halloween will save more than one child. A new mantra will evolve from this: “Save more than one!”
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.