Parenting Tips, Info, & Advice
Psycho Killers and Other Halloween “Dangers”
How does the Talking Heads song go? “Psycho Killer, qu’est-ce que c’est…Run, run, run, run, run, run, run away….”?
It’s a catchy tune, and the song that comes to mind every time Halloween comes around and I hear people reminding others to check their children's candy, apparently worried about all the “psychos” out there ready to kill our kids with razor blades in candy and apples.
It’s a story nearly as old as I am—an urban legend, but one with real staying power it would seem.
After all—and be honest here—how many of you find yourselves checking all your children’s candy for signs of tampering after the big night?
After years of watching my father do it, it’s hard to accept I don’t need to.
But I don’t. As I shared last year, it was a story manufactured in 1974 by some guy named Richard Turbo and printed in a PTA magazine.
And there are ZERO substantiated reports of anyone being killed or injured by a contaminated treat.
So what are the risks on Halloween? Not many, to be honest. Kids have been having fun on Halloween for about a century. It's a night where kids (and teens!) get to play pretend, use their imaginations, build community, and just have fun!
And like every other night, there are some things we can do to add a dose of safety without killing the fun. Here are three:
Cars versus Pedestrians
Trick-or-treating is great fun—I’m a big fan and I hope it’s a tradition that will continue. Various efforts by local malls, churches, schools, and other organizations to consolidate it all on one place (trunk-or-treating) are, in my opinion, stealing the fun away. Let the kids have fun! That said, it’s not without some things to be aware of, as kids versus car incidents are more likely on Halloween.
How to mitigate the risk? If you are more safety minded, here are some things you can do without killing the fun:
- Deck the kids out with safety gear: flashlights, glow-in-the-dark sticks, reflective tape on costumes and candy bags, and an emergency contact card in case they get separated.
- Trick-or-treat as a part of a large group, and for younger kids, send along an adult to supervise. For bigger kids who can tell time, establish some geographical boundaries and a clear “home by” time.
- Talk about and remind kids about car/pedestrian safety before heading out and walk on sidewalks wherever possible.
The CDC notes that around Halloween, there is a heightened risk of children confusing medication for candy. So if you have medication in your home, or are a user of THC products that may resemble candy, this is a time to be extra careful with those items. Put those and all vitamins up and away—both out of sight and out of reach of children who may be anxious to get their hands on every last little big of candy they can track down.
These can come in the form of a food allergy or a reaction to the ingredients in face makeup. If you know you have a sensitive kiddo, test out makeup on a small area of skin first, and remove it before bedtime to avoid skin and eye irritation. For food allergies, never accept homemade treats or accept food made my strangers—eat only factory-wrapped treats, being careful to avoid allergens if you have a medically sensitive kiddo.
If you do have a kiddo with allergies, don’t forget to bring your epi-pen with you. And for everyone, whether your child has allergies or not, consider placing a teal pumpkin as part of the Teal Pumpkin Project on your doorstep and offering non-food trinkets and treats that are safe for all kiddos. You can also use the project’s website to place your home on a map, letting kiddos who can’t enjoy candy know where you can be found!
Beyond those, as always, common sense should prevail, but fear (other than of ghosts and goblins!) should not be allowed to kill the fun. Review basic age-appropriate safety rules for kids and teens before heading out, and then let the magic of the night creep in, psycho killers notwithstanding! 😉
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Christy Keating is a certified parent coach, positive discipline educator, and motivational speaker. She is the founder and CEO of The Heartful Parent Collective, which includes Heartful Parent Coaching, Savvy Parents Safe Kids, and Heartful Parent Academy.
The mother of two amazing daughters, Christy strives to build a happier, healthier world - one child, one parent, and one family at a time.