By Princess Gabbara | THE EASTERN ECHO
Halloween is the only day of the year when children can knock on strangers’ doors and receive free candy. It gives everyone, young and old, an excuse to load up on candy and watch scary movies.
Sounds harmless, right? Not exactly.
Halloween is also known for malicious pranks such as arson, vandalism, passing out tainted candy to children and other heinous acts. Not only are these pranks cruel, they’re illegal.
But is it really any worse than every other holiday throughout the year?
Halloween has a reputation for being dangerous, but it’s no different from any other day of the year, according to Eastern Michigan University police officer Candace Dorsey.
“I don’t think that Halloween is a more dangerous holiday than any other,” she said. “There certainly are other holidays such as Memorial Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day that statistically can be proven that more incidences occur.”
Cases of arson, however, are quite common around Halloween.
In 2010, a total of 169 fires were reported during the three days leading up to Halloween
in Detroit, according to unews.com.
Vandalism is also common. Popular types of vandalism include breaking windows, slashing tires, egging homes/cars and decorating trees with toilet paper, commonly referred to as TP-ing.
According to Dorsey, Halloween doesn’t appear to have any influence on the number of vandalism cases or other crimes that occur at EMU.
“Reports of vandalism occur, but do not increase greatly because of Halloween here on campus,” she said. “However, we [DPS] may receive an increase in complaints regarding alcohol/drinking related incidences on Halloween evening.”
Crimeinamerica.net said studies have shown there is a correlation between dressing in a costume on Halloween and the consumption of alcohol.
What about trick-or-treating? After all, many would agree the best part about Halloween is dressing up in a costume and collecting buckets of candy. Many parents, however, are hesitant about trick-or-treating because they’re afraid strangers will pass out tainted candy to their children.
Public relations major Kiela Collins said she has always had concerns regarding the candy her children received from strangers on Halloween.
“My husband and I allowed our children to trick-or-treat,” she said. “We would also
inspect the candy once we got home to make sure nothing seemed unusual.”
So, what are the chances of children actually receiving tainted candy on Halloween?
Annarbor.com reported within the last 50 years, there have been very few cases of strangers who have passed out tainted candy to children on Halloween.
In the past, there have been few cases of tainted candy reported at Oakwood Hospital.
Medical records clerk Diane Shumack explained what has happened.
“There were two incidents in the Oakwood ER Department in 2009,” she said. “The candy appeared to be tampered with, and a bag of Fritos had tiny holes in it.”
Although there have been reports of tampering, the cases that end up in court usually concern a family member or parent, not a stranger. Overall, cases of tainted candy might be rare, but it’s still important for parents to carefully inspect candy after trick-or-treating.
A few hours from now, streets everywhere will be swarming with children traveling from door to door shouting “Trick-or-treat!”
Public relations major Jessica Alcenius is taking her step-son trick-or-treating tonight. Is Alcenius concerned about safety issues?
“We are never too worried about safety because we live in a very safe neighborhood,” she said. “The only problem we have encountered is cars that drive a little too fast on the residential roads, but we are always careful and keep an eye out for them.”
Alcenius raised an important issue. Children are four times more likely to be killed by a motor vehicle on Halloween compared to any other day of the year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Like any other holiday, Halloween requires some necessary caution, but it’s also the perfect time of year to watch scary movies and get drunk on candy.
Although Halloween is supposed to be fun, it’s important to put safety first. Fun mixed with a little caution makes for the perfect Halloween.
Dorsey summed up the essence of Halloween.
“Different holidays affect people in different ways,” she said. “Halloween is supposed to be one of those fun holidays with people enjoying dressing up in costumes and getting together for day/evening festivities.”