Trick or treating is something kids did and can do on their own. But society is morphing this delightful childhood tradition into "dangerous encounters with strangers."
So now here's how kids are being encouraged to celebrate in California's Bay Area. BART is the local public transit, and this is a press release from the transit police. Boldface mine:
Children who visit Coliseum and South Hayward stations from 5 pm - 7 pm on Monday, October 30, 2017, will get a special treat from BART’s Police Department. Officers will host BART’s second annual Halloween “Trunk or Treat” event, a safer alternative to the house-to-house Halloween trick-or-treating tradition. Candy, games and special prizes will be offered.
Trunk or Treat is free and open to all children 12 years and under. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
Trunk or Treat is much like classic trick or treating. [Lenore here: Except it's not.] Kids still dress up in costumes and ask for candy, but instead of walking from house to house and encountering strangers or dodging traffic at night, Trunk or Treaters are in a designated area collecting candy, playing games or getting their faces painted. All of these activities take place with their parents/guardians and police officers close by.
This event is another way that our department is reaching out to the children and families in our communities to establish and maintain a positive relationship with them...
Okay, let's think about this:
1 - Why is it suddenly so dangerous to go house to house? If there are enough police to run a face-painting, prize-giving, candy fest, why not redeploy them as crossing guards for the night to prevent the only real danger, traffic accidents?
2 - Kids can be up to age 12, but still MUST be accompanied by an adult? How infantilizing.
3 - "Instead of...encountering strangers." That is the whole IDEA of Halloween. Encountering people who are not pre-screened. Getting to know your neighbors. The police are teaching kids to consider all strangers as potential fiends.
4 - The kids are corralled into a "designated area" -- a safe space, as it were. This is implying that they are only safe when they can be watched over. That's the basic premise of house pets...and prisoners.
5 - And just in case that wasn't safe enough, there are guardians AND police "close by." This turns a night of fun and freedom into a night so incredibly trecherous that the children need two levels of protection.
6 - The cops are reaching out to the locals. I do, truly, appreciate this. They are trying to connect. Unfortunately, they are also following the trend that says kids are NEVER SAFE without gobs of supervision. It's great for kids and cops getting to know each other as humans. But treating everyone under 12 as a potential victim, and every adult as a possible perp, is not the way to create community.
Halloween is no more dangerous than it ever was. Crime is at a 50-year low. The only thing at an all-time high is distrust.