ROSE NOLEN: Safety on Halloween should not be an afterthought

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 11:01 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 22, 2011

It takes only one trip to a variety store between mid-August and the end of October to convince anyone that Halloween is second only to Christmas as the most commercialized holiday of the year.

Skeletons, scary masks and carved pumpkins are all over the place. Apparently, that means a lot of people think the holiday is fun. 

As far as I’m concerned, it’s my least favorite holiday. The only way to make it worse would be to add fireworks.

On Halloween, it concerns me to see children running through the streets and knocking on doors in unfamiliar neighborhoods. I realize a lot of schools and churches have their own parties in an effort to keep children safe, but there are always parents who allow their children to prowl the streets.

Here again is another example of letting parents make decisions for their children, no matter how irresponsible the parents may be.

We hear on newscasts and read in newspapers about criminals who deal in human trafficking of young children, both boys and girls.

We do understand that sex offenders are required to let officials know where they live. Law enforcement personnel may be doing their best to keep us informed in order for us to protect children.

Still, children are reported harmed or missing every year, and entire communities can be torn apart because of it.

I remember reading several years ago that accounts of razor blades and other dangerous items in fruit for Halloween were urban legends.

That may be true in some places. But the community where I lived at that time invited children to have their booty X-rayed by the police department before taking it home. Several instances of tainted fruit were discovered.

Crime statistics also demonstrate that children are not safe running around at night without supervision. What is it about child molesters that we don’t understand?

In Missouri, we need to remember that many traditions were born when we were mostly small, close-knit agricultural communities, and families looked after each other. In those days, a few outhouses overturned by a delinquent juvenile was about as far out of control as Halloween fun got.

This is a different time and a different place. People have changed, and the rules have changed. The bottom line is, we don’t play well together. We don't look after one another. We need to revisit those old traditions.

I am aware that probably as many adults as children embrace Halloween nowadays. These people are reluctant to put an end to the celebrations.

Yet every year when night falls and I hear the voices of children ringing out on the streets, I turn my lights out and pray they will all be safe.

Allowing children to dress in costumes and have a party is a good thing, but keeping them safe inside, among people they know, is a caution that ought to be observed.

Do we have to carve this in stone?

If that’s what it’s going to take to keep children safe, maybe we should.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at

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mike mentor September 20, 2011 | 3:47 p.m.

Not saying I would leave my young children unattended these days, but you have a better chance of being struck by lightning twice in the same day as you do being the victim of a kidnapping.

Supervise your children and have fun. Oh, and come in around 9 or so when the hooligans start to outnumber the cute ones...

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