For Halloween, Take The Sex Offender Map With A Grain Of Salt
Every year around Halloween, we start hearing the stories about the dangers lurking for our children. From razor blades hidden in candy, to people handing out candy laced with THC; it seems there's always some "urban legend" that makes us think twice about trick-or-treating.
I don't know if you've ever looked at a "red-dot" map of your neighborhood, but it can definitely change the way you see your neighborhood. These maps are designed to show you where sex-offenders are living within a certain radius of your house. I've done it, and it was shocking.
The group NARSOL (National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws) has recently spoken out against the use of "red-dot" maps in conjunction with Halloween news stories. The organization states that they want children safe, just like everyone else. They disagree with publishing the information on "red-dot" maps as part of Halloween news coverage.
The reason why is that, according to them, children are not at a greater risk for harm from sex offenders during the Halloween season; and publishing the names and addresses of those found on a "red-dot" map does nothing to protect children. Instead, it can subject family members of those listed to harassment, ridicule, vandalism, and harm. Those family members may include children.
NARSOL has a lot of quotes and studies to back up their claims that children are at no greater risk during Halloween when it comes to sex crimes. They cite various studies on the topic.
They also point out a study that shows that most sex crimes committed against children are by family members or acquaintances.
It's tough as a parent though, when you see the sensational headlines. The "red-dot" style stories are designed to get your attention by claiming there is someone out there in your neighborhood who would hurt your child. It gets your attention, and then your head gets filled with all of the nightmare scenarios.
It is a tough spot to be in as a parent. You want to do everything you can to protect your child, but where do you draw the line?
Having seen a "red-dot" map of my neighborhood, at first I was shocked and concerned. But, my children have been playing outside on their own and playing on the trampoline without a single incident for some time now. Why would I change that at Halloween?
I'm not saying that knowledge of sex offenders in your neighborhood is bad, and you shouldn't know. What I am saying is that just because someone says that there is someone lurking in the shadows waiting to hurt your child, it may not be true.
For me, I'll probably just stick to my usual practice of spending Halloween with my kids. That way we get quality time together, and I don't have to worry about anything. Plus, I usually wind up carrying everyone's buckets of candy by the end of the night anyways.