The world is not as safe as it used to be. The days of leaving your door open so kids can come in your porch for some candied fun are over. As reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; National Crime Information Center “In 80 percent of abductions by strangers, the first contact between the child and the abductor occurs within a quarter mile of the child’s home.Stranger kidnapping victimizes more females than males, occurs primarily at outdoor locations, victimizes both teenagers and school-age children, is associated with sexual assaults in the case of girl victims and robberies in the case of boy victims (although not exclusively so), and is the type of kidnapping most likely to involve the use of a firearm.” (Bilitch, CAF)
It is scary to think that our children might be unsafe, and that fear might make parents think twice about even letting the kids outside at all on Halloween, but there are alternatives to simple trick or treating that you can do to keep your kids safe while still having holiday hijinks as a family.
1. Look into your local church or religious center for activities.
There is no secret that religious institutions usually steer clear of the scary side of Halloween, but in modern society there has been a rush for acceptance that has encouraged many churches to provide alternatives as opposed to scoldings in celebration of Halloween. Whether it be a canned food drive or a fall festival, keeping your eyes open here may surprise you. I know in the Inland Empire, California (where I live) area there are more than a few churches offering contained family fun activities that help you keep an eye on your kids while still leaving the house to have fun with other family oriented people. Doing research is imperative here. Bringing your kids somewhere you do not know can be just as dangerous. Give a call to the center holding the event and ask questions before going anywhere. If you hear anything you do not like, even a small amount, do not go. Always be safe before sorry.
2. Day Time Apple Taking – Night Time Apple Making
Apple picking has been around since my grandmother was a kid, and there is a good reason; because it is a low cost starter activity. Find your nearest orchard and give them a call. Most likely they will give you a good rate because of the holidays. Again, research here is very important. When you find the orchard that is the best fit for your family pack up some lunch and head on down early Halloween morning. Pick as many as you can carry, you’ll need them. When you get home you can have a cooking bonanza. After washing every apple thoroughly look up recipes to make a pie, use the apples to make apple jam, make apple juice then top it off by making apple cider with the rest. Apple turn overs, apple hats if you want to, the important part is that you make as many fun tasty treats with these apples as possible. To add a more group feel to this event invite one or two families to join you. After picking and cooking all the apples you could find, sit down and eat them over a scary story or movie. Invite other families that went picking with you to share treats with, or even have a small competition to prove your apple pie is the best! Creativity is key here. Anything you decide to do with the apples will be a victory for the day if you can do it safely with your family and friends.
3. Host a lock in with some of your closest neighborhood families.
How do you keep unwanted people out? Lock yourself in. For those who are not familiar with the idea of a “lock in” let me explain. A lock in is where you gather all the board games, family activities, contests, and yes even the occasional video-game (Wii might be the most inclusive here), and have fun all night. You make sure you prepare to be “locked in” by having snacks, food, beds, emergency medications, and whatever else you would need to go through the night safely. The bonus of this is allowing multiple eyes of multiple parents be involved in supervision. The rules should be “no one in or out until X time.” If you can not stay until the entire night is over, start at 8 and go until 2am. Its fun for your kids to play with kids and it gives you as a parent the time to interact with your kids as well as get to know your kids friends. Make sure you only do this in the home of a trusted friend. Again, with option number 2, research will be critical. Keep the amount of families involved to a maximum of 5 (Maybe set the limit on 15 or so kids. With too many kids, chances are one can get through any safety net adults might think of.) Know what safety features the house you are using has. Know all the nooks and crannies that kids could squeeze through. Childproof the home AS A PARENT GROUP if you can. Plan emergency routes as a unit. Follow the rules of a lock in and you should be locked in to fun for the night. This requires a lot from the parents side, but a night of safe fun with your children is worth the time.
Halloween is a day that all children should be allowed to have fun. Unfortunately life has created a need for different outlets for that fun. There are still plenty of fun, easy ways to please the kids while keeping them safe. In everything and anything you decide to do, always make sure to DO YOUR RESEARCH. Calls and a little leg work can go a long way to keeping your kids healthy and safe.
As a side note: If you do decide to trick or treat, there is no better safety net then to go with your children yourself. Your eyes can catch a lot of danger theirs might not. Pay attention and be safe. Have a happy Halloween!