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Halloween and hazard
31st of October is All Hallow's Eve, better known as Halloween, just went by, as many of us know.
Halloween is a Big Thing in the USA, where kids dress up and go trick-or-treating, knocking on the doors of complete strangers and asking for a gift of some kind (often candies) upon the blackmail threat of some dastardly trick being played on the owner.
In theory trick-or-treating is a harmless 'magic spell' but in (hopefully infrequent) practice can range from simple unpleasant behavior to damaging property. Some children also abuse the principle, treating Halloween as an excuse to run riot and terrorise their neighbourhoods from behind their Star Wars masks. More worrying in these days of strong feelings and lawsuits about child abuse, both the children and the home-owners could open themselves up to hazard. If the home-owner invites children in, for example, are the children risking abuse? Are they learning that it's ok to go into the houses of strangers, even people they partially know? And what if the children decided to accuse a person who decides not to treat? Child abuse is one of the worst crimes, and being falsely accused of it can ruin lives.
It is perhaps a mark of an embedded culture where everyone knows the rules of the game and bad play is extremely rare. I don't know whether fears for children have changed trick-or-treating in the USA, but here in the UK it is in a precarious state where, as a US import, it is still patchy in use. Whilst children like the idea of free gifts, parents worry about the hazards and imagine probabilities to be much higher than they actually are. In some areas, the rules are not known and unpleasantness is more common on both sides.
We bought a bag of sweets in case children came our way, but none did. We're in a quiet and polite corner where such things are as much frowned upon as children are sheltered.
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