The psycho-next-door fear went viral

Lenore Skenazy is the Free Range Kids lady, one of those who wonders whatever happened to the way it used to be. At the WSJ, she notes about the ‘Stranger Danger’ and the Decline of Halloween and notes that “No child has ever been killed by poisoned candy. Ever.”

Elizabeth Letourneau, an associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, studied crime statistics from 30 states and found, “There is zero evidence to support the idea that Halloween is a dangerous date for children in terms of child molestation.”

In fact, she says, “We almost called this paper, ‘Halloween: The Safest Day of the Year,’ because it was just so incredibly rare to see anything happen on that day.”

Why is it so safe? Because despite our mounting fears and apoplectic media, it is still the day that many of us, of all ages, go outside. We knock on doors. We meet each other. And all that giving and taking and trick-or-treating is building the very thing that keeps us safe: community.

The adults have taken over the asylum and it has become much more dangerous?

The fact is that yesterday’s trick-or-treat neighborhood walk-around folks are today’s adults who haven’t given up (grown out of?) the habit. As adults they have money to spend and different motivations. It is no longer a matter of seeing who could get the most swag. It is a party with ‘adult’ motivations. Costumes are no longer childish improvisations but rather designer duds intended to win a contest – or a date,

As for the kids? They follow the parents. That is, until the parents turn them loose. That is what Free Range Kids is all about. There are risks in independence and childhood is about learning to be independent. That means allowing an appropriate level of risk and occasionally realizing the risk in unpleasant ways. With money and means and luxuries never before seen in society, parents have ever more opportunity and ever better equipment to hover over their children and eliminate risk. It is what else is inhibited that concerns folks like Skenazy.

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