Keeping Your Kids Safe on Halloween
Is it just me, or is it a scarier world to raise a kid and go trick or treating in?
-April Daniels Hussar
I don’t know if every generation of parents felt like this – they probably did – but lately the world has seemed a scarier and scarier place to try to raise a child in safety and security. Just about every day there’s some mind-bogglingly dreadful story on the news about another kidnapping or murder or gang rape. Roman Polanski has supporters (?!); Caylee Anthony’s mother wants the murder charges dropped, Richard Heene exploited his child (heretofore and forever known as Balloon Boy) to try to achieve the dubious fame of Octomom and Jon and Kate; and Jaycee Dugard … well, she may be home with her family, thank goodness, but that was a long, horrific 18 years.
So what’s a mommy to do? Packing up and moving to a tropical island without cable doesn’t seem like a viable option. But neither does tying one end of a long string to my daughter and the other one around me, though that’s tempting.
Of course, there’s always good old-fashioned GPS. Sprint is advertising “Family Locator” for their cell subscribers in Tennessee and Virginia, which offers parents: “Real-time interactive satellite maps with street addresses;” as well as “SafetyChecksSM that send automatic notifications of the child’s location on specific days and at precise times;” plus the “ability to see where children have been by using maps featuring seven days of historical locations.” (So you were at Johnny’s house, eh? Well, let’s see about that!)
And for those of us who don’t live in TN or VA, we can head over to Best Buy for a Little Buddy Child Tracker. For $99 parents can “keep tabs on your child at all times with this small but sophisticated device that combines GPS and cellular technology to provide you with real-time location updates.” It’s small enough to fit “easily into a backpack, lunchbox or other receptacle, making it easy for your child to carry so you can check his or her location at any time using a smartphone or computer.”
I don’t know. I understand the motivation behind these products. And I’m pretty sure it’s only a matter of time before they get smaller and smaller and can be worn on a necklace or, who knows, a tiny implant. And knowing how paranoid I am, I will never say never. But for now, these devices seem like one more way to drive me into an early neurotic’s grave.
In the meantime, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (the very name and existence of which causes an instant lump in my throat) offers this list of 10 Things Parents Can Do to Make Halloween Safer.
They have some good, if obvious, advice, from “carry a glow stick or flashlight” to “ALWAYS walk younger children to the door to receive treats and don’t let children enter a home unless you are with them.” I mean, duh. But then there are some tips that make me wonder if the whole idea of Halloween is just outdated and has no place in the world we live in:
BE SURE children do not approach any vehicle, occupied or not, unless you are with them.
TEACH children to say ‘NO!’ or ‘this is not my mother/father’ in a loud voice if someone tries to get them to go somewhere, accept anything other than a treat, or leave with them. And teach them that they should make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming and resisting.
Gulp. Thankfully my own child isn’t anywhere near old enough to even want to go out trick or treating herself (I’m thinking about 35 sounds good). So on Saturday night, I’ll help her into her sunflower fairy costume, put on the crown we made together, and hold her hand. And it won’t just be the melted chocolate and lollipop drool that keeps me stuck to her like glue.
April Daniels Hussar is BettyConfidential’s Deputy Editor