homepage logo

PC police put a damper on spookiest night of the year

By Staff | Sep 26, 2013

Is it just me or was trick-or-treat a lot more fun 20 years ago?

Before the political correctness gurus and the helicopter parent movement descended on society, I remember a certain thrill about Halloween. Every kid in my neighborhood was grilled about the dangers that could be lurking in the darkness, yet every year we put on our costumes and went out armed with flashlights and bags for candy anyway. And every year we all had a great time. The fear was part of the fun. The adrenaline from doing something you knew was dangerous and doing it with parental permission was always sweeter than the candy.

But these days

First off, since when did trick-or-treat only happen in the daylight? Going out in the dark was the best part, even if the glow sticks or the reflector tape didn’t go with your costume. For so many kids, going out after sunset was forbidden -for good reason – but forbidden just the same. Halloween was the one time of year you could step out into that cold blackness without being punished. Now trick-or-treat is relegated to specific hours and everything is wrapped up and over before the sun goes down. Where’s the fun in that?

And we did trick-or-treat on the actual night of Halloween, too, school night or not. Yet another forbidden delight of the holiday was getting to stay out a bit later. OK, some years it was the 30th, but it just feels weird to do it on, say, the 20th. It makes the 31st just another date on the calendar, which cheapens the holiday. It’s like having Christmas morning on the 15th of December.

By the way, my trick-or-treat buddies and I walked. There was none of this driving from house to house business. The point was to get cars off the roads so nobody was hit. People complain about Halloween candy contributing to the childhood obesity rates, but they fail to mention that the kids no longer have to earn it by walking from house to house. And none of this following your kids in the minivan either. We all could use a bit more exercise.

I can’t deny that many of these changes to trick-or-treat come from sensible, practical reasons. Nobody likes the idea of some poor kid out for a lark on Halloween and getting crushed by a car. But while safety is great and safety is important, there have to be other measures we can put in place. Closing off streets to traffic comes to mind. Supervising kids as they walk around is also good. But changing things to make them safer just puts our children in cotton fluff – starting them off thinking things are always going to be safe doesn’t prepare them for a time when thing are not safe. The world is a frightening place and hiding it now isn’t going to make it less so. In fact, it might even make it more so – if you never learn how to deal with fear when you’re a child, how are you going to cope as an adult?

Because the really scary thought is that we’re raising a generation that can’t cope with a little fear.