By Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.
Thirty-five years of public affairs for national and state criminal justice agencies. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Management for the National Crime Prevention Council. Graduate-Johns Hopkins University.
Have fun with your children!!!
Understand that crimes against children during Halloween are rare.
Halloween is a great opportunity, however, to discuss safety issues throughout the year several days in advance. Do not scare. Have supportive, kind, age appropriate conversations.
With the country currently going through a “scary clown” phenomenon, this is not the year not to dress as a clown (exception for very young children). Parents or teenagers dressing as scary clowns are asking for a lot of unwanted attention and police contact.
We constantly talk about stranger danger, but the vast majority of children are victimized by someone they know.
Children should ALWAYS be welcomed or encouraged to report inappropriate, questionable or dangerous behavior by others.
Children should be gently instructed to scream and make a scene to alert parents if anyone tries to grab them or force them, in any way, to go with them.
Parents should accompany their children (includes pre-teens and young teenagers). If they protest, that’s too bad. Accompany them anyway. Be visible to the people answering the door.
Unless the porch light is on, do not go to the house.
Children should not enter homes without knowing the occupants, and with the immediate permission of parents.
Travel in a group with other parents.
Carry a flashlight.
Carry a smartphone.
Always inspect what children receive. Children cannot eat what they receive without parental inspection.
Others should easily see costumes.
Stay in your neighborhood. Stay where you are familiar with the surroundings.
As to “pranks,” call the police. Extra police are out before and during Halloween.
Parole and Probation authorities are out keeping an eye on sex offenders.
If you see young teens roaming as a group unescorted by adults, stand by your property or neighborhood and greet them kindly. Just knowing that adults claim the area as their own is enough to keep most young folks in check.
If you see strange adults or young adults driving by slowly or attempting to interact with children, get the license number and call police. But that’s not going to happen if they see you with a cell phone in your hand. Note that there are some parents who follow their kids in a vehicle (but you already knew that).
PLEASE be a nice person and check on elderly folks in the neighborhood to make sure they are OK.
Have a fun and safe Halloween!!!