Halloween myths

I love Halloween, and I always have. It’s that one time of year when kids get to explore their imaginations, become an entirely different person (or creepy thing) and bribe adults into giving them as much sugar as they can handle. Now what can be wrong with that?

The older kids have fun as well. They enjoy scaring themselves (and each other) with pranks, scary movies and urban legends that always happened right here in this town. (I always like the one about the guy with the hook for a hand who just escaped from the mental institution. It’s a classic.) Unfortunately, for some time the fun side of Halloween and the scary side have been mixing, and I’m not sure I like the results.

I know instilling fear in people, about anything from terrorists attacks, biological warfare, and new infections that are resistant to most antibiotics seems like the norm, but when fear mongers start attacking Halloween, that’s where I draw the line.

For years, children have been warned of the hidden dangers that could lie in their Halloween basket.

• Don’t eat anything homemade.

• Don’t eat any candy until you get home.

• Have an adult inspect your candy.

• As an added precaution have all of your candy x-rayed to make sure nothing sinister has been added.

I guess the idea is that it’s better to be safe than sorry, and I understand that, but making children afraid of every fun thing they can experience is probably not the answer.

The myth that there are evil doers behind the door of every house ready to pounce out and poison little children on Halloween is one that has been proven false again and again. Statistics show that most cases of “Halloween poisoning” were caused by children’s family members rather than the nice lady down the block who is handing out homemade popcorn balls, apples and peanut butter brittle. So the chances of a normal kid biting into an apple and finding a razor blade, or eating candy that has been laced with cyanide is probably pretty slim. But despite the fact that these urban legends are in fact false, people continue to terrorize children with the idea that every one of their neighbors could be a potential killer, just waiting to pounce.

I know Halloween safety is important, and you never know when some crazy is going to decide to do something awful and ruin a perfectly good holiday, but instead of making children and adults so scared that the idea of trick-or-treating makes them want to hide under their beds, maybe we should calm down just a little and enjoy the fun of Halloween.

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