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Sex offenders & Halloween: No need to fear the scary stories

If you have children who will be trick-or-treating tomorrow night, you may have already heard the warnings. In some parts of Louisiana, local law enforcement agencies are warning community members to go online and educate themselves about where registered sex offenders live.

The logic goes something like this: Halloween is a time when many children will be going door-to-door in the dark. As such, this is a perfect opportunity for registered sex offenders to find potential victims and commit unspeakable crimes. There’s only one problem with this line of thinking: It is almost completely at odds with statistical evidence on child sex crimes as well as convicted sex offenders.

First, let’s discuss some of the precautions communities are taking. Around the country, law enforcement agencies are keeping tabs on sex offenders by:

  • Making sure they do not hand out candy at their home
  • Making sure that their exterior lights are off and that (in some cases) they post “no candy” signs
  • Advertising where sex offenders live and urging parents to keep their children away from those locations
  • Forcing registered offenders to attend mandatory meetings during trick-or-treating hours
  • Executing compliance checks of sex offenders’ homes to make sure they stay indoors and or not violating any laws or restrictions

These actions are based on false assumptions. First, they assume that all sex offenders have committed crimes against children and will do so again if children they do not know come to their door.

In reality, 93 percent of sex crimes committed against children are perpetrated by family members or other adults that the child knows. Children are rarely abused by strangers, and there is no statistical evidence showing that children have ever been sexually abused by a stranger while trick-or-treating.

These Halloween restrictions are also based on the false assumptions that all sex offenders are pedophiles and that they are at high risk for reoffending. The facts are that only a small group of sex offenders have committed crimes against children, and that recidivism rates for sex crimes are actually lower than they are for other types of crime.

Halloween should be a fun and safe holiday for kids. And yes, there are perhaps some safety restrictions that are necessary. But do we really want to promote a culture of fear among children and the community in general and impose restrictions that make little to no practical sense?

Source: The Huffington Post, “Manufacturing Fear: Halloween Laws for Sex Offenders,” Emily Horowitz, Oct. 21, 2013

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Meet Attorney Guillory

Attorney Joshua S. Guillory was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. Upon graduating high school from Alexandria Senior High, he enrolled in classes at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree. Josh was a member of Mu Kappa Tau, a national honor society for marketing majors, while attending... Read More

Joshua S. Guillory

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