October 30, 2017
Halloween Sex Crime Myth Busted
Despite an increase in laws, restrictions and awareness campaigns aimed at preventing sexual violence against trick-or-treaters, data analysis research reveals that Halloween has no effect on sex crime rates. A study of child sex crime rates on October 31st found that they do not differ from expected rates (based on time, seasonality, and weekday periodicity) and there is no increased rate in the days leading up to the celebration.
The study analyzed data from the National Incident-Base Reporting System from 1997 through 2005 and examined 67,045 nonfamilial sex crimes against children aged 12 years and less. Researchers also found that Halloween incidents do not reveal any unusual characteristics or patterns and findings were consistent across years both before and after the implementation of Halloween-based prevention strategies.
Based on concerns that Halloween presents an unusually high risk for sex-based crimes against children, several states, municipalities and parole departments have developed alarmist policies in recent years. In some jurisdictions in New York, sex offenders on probation have been required to attend a training session on Halloween night and others have been barred from leaving their homes or answering their doors. Other states have disallowed previous offenders from decorating their homes or attending costume parties. According to the researchers, some police stations and communities advise community members to check the sex offender registry before taking their kids trick-or-treating.
These research findings suggest that while parents should always use caution in supervising their children, there is no need for increased concern around sex crimes and trick-or-treating. According to the authors, motor vehicle accidents pose a much greater risk to child safety on October 31st. “Children aged 5 to 14 years are four times more likely to be killed in a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident on Halloween than on any other day of the year.” These statistics call into question the effectiveness of policies intended to address violence and crime on Halloween. The authors explain, “Our findings indicated that sex crimes against children by non-family members account for 2 out of every 1,000 Halloween crimes, calling into question the justification for diverting law enforcement resources away from more prevalent public safety concerns.”