Halloween is a fun time of year for children. They get to dress up in costumes representing their favorite cartoon or television characters. They get to attend parties and bob for apples. They get to walk around the neighborhood with a large container in hand, collecting candy from strangers- an act normally forbidden by parents every other day of the year.
Many parents are spooked out by Halloween and worry that a neighborhood sicko might poison the candy or stick sharp objects inside it. While there have been random reports of pins placed in apples and poison added to candy bars, a quick examination of the facts shows that these worries are completely misguided. According to Snopes.com and other sources, there isn’t a single documented case of someone poisoning Halloween candy. There is the tragic Houston story from 1974 when Timothy Marc O’Bryan died from poisoned Halloween candy, but an investigation later revealed the true cause of the crime: It wasn’t random poisoning- the boy’s own father had laced his Pixie Stix with cyanide in an effort to collect insurance money when his son died. Regardless of how extremely rare suspected poisonings might be, the legend of the Houston boy and similar events continue to worry parents and they still insist on inspecting each and every package of sweet tarts, every snickers bar, and each popcorn ball in their kid’s trick or treat bag, just to be safe.
As for objects getting placed into candy, well, this is more commonplace in part because it invokes the “trick” part of the trick or treat experience, But even these occurrences are very rare and are too uncommon to warrant any real fear in the hearts and minds of parents. Statistically, your child has a far better chance of getting struck by a car while trick or treating than in eating tampered- with candy so parent’s fears are greatly misplaced.
Halloween and trick or treating is not without its risks, though. Parents should still take precautions and should make sure than an adult goes along with younger children while they trick or treat. Since it’s going to be dark, it’s also a good idea to encourage bright colored costumes and if you’re going to hand out candy of your own, make sure the pathway leading up to your house is well lit. Make sure kids walk on the sidewalk and watch out for vehicles. And if you have a dog, do everyone a favor and keep it restrained to another part of the house. No kid wants you to open the door and have to deal with your out of control pooch aiming straight for the kid’s bag of goodies.
Halloween is a fun time for kids and can remain fun if certain precautions are taken. Inspecting candy before kids consume is still not a bad idea and if it makes you feel better, then by all means, inspect away. But don’t get yourself all worked up worrying about poisoned candy corn and razor blades placed it Milky Way bars. Concern yourself with the real threats, like dark roads, automobile accidents, and potential injury. Take precautions to minimize the chances for these more common occurrences and you will be well on your way to a safe Halloween experience.