In the never-ending quest to boost their “tough on crime” and “family values” credentials, politicians and police departments across America have turned this year’s Halloween into the scariest one yet.
What could be scarier than a vampire, zombie, or Michael Jackson?
A Registered Sex Offender.
Yes, whether someone’s on the registry for consensual teen-teen sex, for exposing himself from 10 feet away, for discussing sex online with an undercover cop, or for raping an actual kid (whether 5 years ago or 25 years ago), Registered Sex Offenders are being targeted as the Most Dangerous Thing around.
Since virtually no one will stand up for these people’s rights, communities are restricting them on Halloween more than ever. In New Jersey, they may not leave their home tonight after 7pm, and they may not open their doors to trick-or-treaters. In South Carolina, sex offenders on parole or probation must be home and may not have their outdoor lights on between 5-9pm. In Lubbock County, TX, some 80 offenders cannot even stay home tonight and mind their own business—they must attend a Corrections Department meeting from 5-9pm.
Although no one listens, experts keep stating that such coercive programs address a non-existent threat. For example, the recent study from the University of Oklahoma’s Center on Child Abuse and Neglect shows that children are no more likely to be sexually exploited by a stranger on Halloween than on any other autumn day.
And a paper published in Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment reviewed attacks by non-family members during a nine-year period on more than 67,000 victims 12 or younger. Neither Halloween nor the days surrounding it showed increased attacks.
And the FBI says that Registered Sex Offenders are less likely to reoffend than murderers, homicidal drunk drivers, arsonists, or violent burglars.
In reality, the most dangerous part of trick-or-treating is—cars.
Pedestrians age 5-14 are four times more likely to get struck and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
But cars are everywhere, and we can’t eliminate them. It’s easier to target a group of people with no rights and no support, and attempt to eliminate them.
If only protecting our kids were that easy.