Halloween abuse hysteria

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Halloween abuse hysteria is a largely American phenomenon in which states, municipalities, parole departments and media respond to and encourage public fears concerning the possibility of registered sex offenders re-offending due to the presence of minors in public spaces and on their doorsteps during Halloween. Whilst the exact measures differ, registered offenders have been banned from Halloween activities, displaying decorations and answering their doors during Halloween.

Lack of empirical support for measures

"An Analysis of Child Sex Crime Rates on Halloween" by Chaffin, Levenson, Letourneau and Stern found that relevant offending "[r]ates did not differ from expectation, no increased rate on or just before Halloween was found, and Halloween incidents did not evidence unusual case characteristics. Findings were invariant across years, both prior to and after these policies became popular. These findings raise questions about the wisdom of diverting law enforcement resources to attend to a problem that does not appear to exist."[1]

References

  1. Chaffin, M. Levenson, J. Letourneau, A. and Stern, P. (2009), "How Safe Are Trick-or-Treaters?", Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 21, No. 3, 363-374