Link to this Article: http://www.llewellyn.com/encyclopedia/article/7818
This article was written by Donald Michael Kraig on November 28, 2006
posted under Halloween
When I was growing up, one of the great pleasures of childhood was going trick-or-treating on Halloween. By the time I returned home I had a bag filled with pieces of candy and fruit. My mother had to limit what I ate so that in my childhood excitement I wouldnít overdose on sugar.
As I got older, I had even more fun handing out candy. My mother and I would spend an afternoon making up small bags with pieces of candy in them. They were all unwrapped, and my mother made sure I washed my hands before I helped her. We wanted the candy to be clean.
But something came up over the years. People were putting dangerous items in Halloween treats. These ranged from poison to such things as pins, needles, or razor blades. Soon, no longer could I make up bags with three pieces of candy corn and a gumball. Now we could only give out pre-packaged items.
Besides being a moneymaking advantage for candy makers, itís certainly important to keep our children safe. And we all "knew" there were crazy people out there who did this kind of thing; it was common knowledge.
Later on, as I studied occultism, a new horror appeared in the public consciousness: ritual child abuse. Unfortunately for the purveyors of terror, the claims have turned out to be mythic. In fact, the claims of ritual or Satanic ritual child abuse have sometimes gotten in the way of prosecutions for child abuse, and have destroyed families and cost governments many millions of dollars. So if claims of structured occult child abuse are not real, I wondered about the great Halloween fear of tainted candy and fruit. My research into the last fifty years of such claims result in one conclusion: itís an urban legend, a hoax.
In an article by Joel Best, Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware, the following is noted:
1) There is no evidence of a death from tainted Halloween treats ever being covered by major media.
2) Urban myths are means of expressing anxiety and appear most often when there is some sort of crime that has touched the fears of the populace. For example, in September of 1982 there were deaths attributed to poisoned Tylenol capsules. The result was an increase in warnings of problems with Halloween candy.
3) The author listed five cases from 1970 to 2001 where the local media claimed a child had died from tampered Halloween treats. In each case, however, research showed the deaths had nothing to do with treats obtained via trick-or-treating and were either the result of natural causes or a planned murder.
4) Medical literature does not include any cases of children being poisoned from treats obtained while trick-or treating.
5) X-raying Halloween candy is expensive for hospitals and would not show poison.
I would add that many hospitals that used to X-ray candy for free have ceased to do so.
As many people know, itís impossible to prove a negative. I canít prove that people have never been harmed by tampered Halloween candy, nor could I prove that it will never happen in the future. Trick-or-treating today is, of course, for the children. But itís also for the parents who enjoy watching their kids have fun. And if parents are worried, it will take the fun out of this aspect of the holiday. Therefore, here are my suggestions:
1) Only take children to the houses of people you know.
2) Before letting children eat the treats, examine packaging for tampering. Discard anything that concerns you. Chances are there will be more than enough left over to please any child.
3) If you have even the slightest concerns about any particular treat, try cutting it into pieces. You would easily find any pin or razor blade.
But there are some very real dangers for children on Halloween, none of which have anything to do with tainted candy. Here are some tips for safe trick-or-treating:
1) There are cars driving about and children and adults need to be careful when crossing streets.
2) Children should carry a flashlight or glowstick to help them see and be seen.
3) Costumes should be made of flame-retardant material and have reflective material.
4) Face make-up is safer than masks as masks tend to limit vision.
5) If a mask is worn, adults may wish to increase the size of the eye holes to increase vision.
6) An adult should always accompany young children.
7) Older children should stick to well-lit streets and have a cell phone to contact parents in case of a problem.
8) Yes, the evening is fun and exciting, but always look both ways before crossing streets and use crosswalks when available.
9) Shoes should fit well.
Halloween can be a wonderfully fun time for children of all ages, and the only fears we should have of it should be when a monster on TV reaches out and goes BOO!
Please note that the use of Llewellyn Encyclopedia articles
is subject to certain Terms and Conditions