Focus should be on documented dangers, not myths
In the midst of nationwide coverage on Halloween safety tips, those who study sex offender laws are frustrated with what they call “a myth-based approach” on the supposed dangers posed by registered former sex offenders to trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.
Many places have enacted bans and special requirements targeting former sex offenders. The laws vary from prohibiting registrants from decorating their homes or wearing costumes, to placing police-issued warning signs on their doors, to keeping all house lights off until 12 AM November 1.
|Halloween Crime Statistics|
“We agree that parents and children alike should exercise caution and be vigilant to potential threats on Halloween, just like any other day,” said Shana Rowan, Executive Director of USA Families Advocating an Intelligent Registry, a group founded by family members of sex offenders and promoting evidence-based policies. “However, disproportionate focus on sex offenders is unfounded. There is not a single record of a child being sexually abused by a registrant by means of a Halloween ritual, however other risks such as vehicle-pedestrian accidents are highly elevated on Halloween. In fact, Dr. Jill Levenson of Lynn University in Florida found in her 2009 study, “How Safe are Trick or Treaters?” that child sex abuse by a stranger accounted for less than 0.2% of all Halloween crimes, but theft, property damage, and assault were markedly higher than other days of the year.”
Ms. Rowan emphasized that most former sex offenders have families and children of their own, another reason she says Halloween laws increase the chance of violence on the offender’s family members. “Given the propensity for property and violent crimes on Halloween night, I can speak for many family members with a loved one on the registry when I say that we genuinely fear for our safety in our own homes.”
To help illustrate just how unlikely it is that a child will be victimized by a sex offender on Halloween, Ms. Rowan created the following graph using data from Dr. Levenson’s report (PDF).