If you let your teenagers go trick-or-treating then shame on you
PUBLISHED: 09:00 27 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:51 27 October 2018
I was never allowed to go trick-or-treating as a child - my mum called it "begging with menaces" and every evening on October 31 she would take the battery out the doorbell.
As a back-up, in case she accidentally answered the door thinking it was my dad coming home from work, she had a bowl of satsumas by the door and once handed our next door neighbours a handful of coppers.
Whereas my mum would have no problem being Halloween’s answer to the Grinch and turning away a group of teenagers, the same can’t be said for more vulnerable members of the community.
One year, two boys, who looked around 15, turned up at my grandma’s house whilst I was sitting in the living room and she hastily handed over a few pound coins.
My grandma, who lives alone, is as tough as old boots but I could tell she felt obliged to hand over the cash for fear that there would be a horrible trick waiting if not.
She might have handed over even more money if I hadn’t been there.
My other grandparents also go to visit their friends every Halloween and my 82-year-old grandad has in the past had to lean out of an upstairs window to wipe off the eggs thrown at the house.
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That’s not to make any sweeping generalisations that all groups of teenagers are there to cause trouble but the fact of the matter is that it is intimidating to the elderly and even more so for those with disabilities and mental health issues.
Little children dressed as pumpkins and as a ghost with a sheet over their head with eye holes cut out are sweet and completely harmless and I’m sure most people would be happy to hand them a bag of Maltesers.
Also if you live in a tight-knit community where all the families know each other then that is completely acceptable too.
Trick-or-treating first originated in North America in the 1920s and first came to the UK in the 1980s and what started out as a sweet tradition has turned into a means for some to go out in a big group and cause havoc without repercussions.
It has led many people to feel a prisoner in their own home every Halloween.
Fears have also been heightened after the ‘killer clown craze’ in 2016 which started in America and saw people disguised as armed, evil clowns near parks and schools.
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Copycat incidents happened across the UK and closer to home a woman was chased through Eaton Park in Norwich and a boy was also chased by a group of clowns in Beatty Road in Sudbury.
It may seem harmless to teenagers roaming the streets in Halloween costumes with their friends but once they get to the age of 12/13 then it stops being cute and from an outsiders perspective can be seen as intimidating.
Some towns and cities in the US have even made it illegal for teenagers to trick-or-treat and in Chesapeake in Virginia, city officials recently announced candy seekers over the age of 12 could receive up to an $100 fine or up to six months in prison. That is not to say it should be made illegal in the UK, I think that is a little extreme, but parents should sit down with their teenagers and explain that they are too old to be going.
Whilst some will do what they want regardless, it is at least worth a try to make them see how threatening it can be.
This year, if your teenager wants to head out with their mates then suggest they have a few mates round for a Halloween party instead.