By Sandy . . . Halloween is over for 2022. Little trick-or-treaters are recovering from sugar overload, and parents are recovering from little trick-or-treaters.
According to a search of all news sources and the internet, once again, no child was harmed/abducted/molested by a person on a sex offender registry during trick-or-treat. That is true in Illinois, the only state remaining in which Patch publishes their infamous “red-dot” maps. Thank you, Patch, in the other 49 states. That is true in Missouri where state laws create rigid restrictions that a registrant must follow, including the placement of a “warning” sign.
It is true in Florida and Tennessee and Wisconsin and Nevada and in the other eight, possibly more, states in which local sheriffs and state departments of correction took it upon themselves to make Facebook posts, create YouTube pieces, and give interviews to news media, all boasting about how they were “keeping children safe” and “protecting our most vulnerable.” These pieces imply the strongest possible connection between Halloween and people on sex offender registries, a totally invented connection.
It is also true that no child was harmed/abducted/molested by a person on a sex offender registry during trick-or-treat in New Mexico or Delaware or Maryland or Iowa. These and other states’ law enforcement officers apparently made no announcements indicating they would spend hours if not days checking on their registrants so they could be sure “children were safe at Halloween.”
In contrast, the East Hampton, New York Police Dept. engaged in “intensified” monitoring of registrants all weekend and on Halloween. Tennessee yearly stages an elaborate “Operation Blackout” targeting registered persons, and Florida’s counties appear to be in competition with each other as to which has the strictest restrictions for registrants.
Except – whatever they were doing, they weren’t protecting or keeping safe because there was nothing to keep safe and protect from. Empirical evidence shows that: 1) There is no connection between sexual crime and Halloween. 2) There is no connection between Halloween and people on sex offender registries. 3) There is no increased risk of sexual harm to trick-or-treating children from people on registries. Furthermore, extensive searches and examination of law enforcement records reveal no instance of a child being abducted/molested/harmed by a registrant during trick-or-treat or any other Halloween activity.
Why does this matter?
It matters because what some law enforcement is doing is misdirection, and instead of helping kids, it hurts them. Misdirection says to them, “This is who you should fear – the stranger, the “other.” The reality is that over 90% of molested children are victims of those in their lives that they know and trust. This misdirection impacts on a secondary level also: if they are ever in a situation where they need to ask help from an adult they don’t know, i.e., a stranger, they will be less likely to. They have been taught to fear strangers.
Misdirection doesn’t teach the truth, and to protect children as much as possible, we need truth, not lies, myths, or misinformation.
Were any children harmed or injured Halloween evening? Oh yes.
A child was seriously injured in a hit and run in New Jersey along with the adult who was with him. There is no more information available at this time.
In Ohio, a truck mowed down a three-year-old, killing him, and injuring his mother walking beside him; they are both reported as being in Halloween costumes.
A drive by shooter in Chicago firing indiscriminately into a crowd of people shot 14, including three children; some are in critical condition. While the group of people does not appear to be connected with Halloween, that cannot be said of the shooter as he has not, at this point, been apprehended.
We have always known that children were at many times greater risk of injury by automobile on Halloween than of sexual assault; we must now add injury by guns.
There is movement surrounding this issue that seems to be in the right direction. Patch’s almost universal removal of its “Halloween Safety Map” is a good example. Another is law enforcement starting to admit they have no reports of sexual crime against children on Halloween.
“While instances of sexual abuse or abductions have not been prevalent on Halloween night in California during . . . almost three decades, we still want to offer some traditional safety tips if you plan to go out with your family,” the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says.
One of the best indicators is that factual and helpful Halloween safety articles are appearing in place of the fear-mongering ones. This piece from Dubois County, Indiana, is an excellent example.
Progress is possible.
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.