CON: Children 4 times as likely to be hit by car during holiday

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

Oct. 27, 2013 at 5:27 a.m.

Halloween night may not be haunted, but the ghosts of tragedies past serve as a cautionary tale for some parents.

With more people walking the streets than usual, often in dark, non-reflective clothing, trick-or-treating and spooky pranks may create an elevated risk for vehicle-related injury and death.

Prince, 4, and Jasmine Watson, 7, made headlines in 1997 when they died on Halloween after being struck by a car while trick-or-treating with their parents in Biscoe, Ark.

Three weeks ago, a Halloween prank went awry when Jordan Morlan, 16, of Louisville, Ky., accidentally hanged himself with a noose while putting up Halloween decorations at his home. He was attempting to scare his sister.

But there's more than a few reasons to use precaution on Halloween.

Children are four times more likely to be struck by a car than on any other night, according to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

State Farm Insurance also reports that the highest number of child-pedestrian fatalities occur on Halloween.

Victoria Police Sgt. Chris Guerra advised parents to use caution while trick-or-treating with their children.

"There are certain guidelines that responsible parents and guardians should follow. But first and foremost, always accompany your child. Don't send them out alone," Guerra said.

By using precautionary methods such as carrying a flashlight, wearing bright and reflective costumes, inspecting all candy before consumption and refraining from entering strangers' homes, Guerra said child injury on Halloween can be prevented.

Keisha Ringland, 28, of Victoria, is convinced trick-or-treating is not as safe as it once was.

When she was growing up, Ringland said Halloween was more lax. She was free to roam the neighborhood streets without supervision and without fear of injury.

Now that she has a child, Macy, 6, she said she's more cautious about taking her child trick-or-treating in Victoria.

"There are so many more things going on today that we didn't worry about when I was growing up: school shootings, kids being kidnapped. Fewer kids are out trick-or-treating anymore, and they're going earlier," Ringland said. "I have one friend who won't take her child at all because she thinks it isn't safe."

On Halloween, Ringland said she will be taking her son and godson to her grandparents' neighborhood to trick-or-treat because the neighborhood is safe, and she knows all the neighbors.

At the end of the night, she will also be inspecting all of her son's candy.

"I always check wrappers and throw away anything that looks suspect," she said, mentioning fruit and homemade items are the first to be thrown in the trash.

Ringland supports alternative activities for children on Halloween, such as church picnics and fall festivals or trick-or-treating at the Victoria Mall.

"It's just a safe alternative for parents who don't think it's safe to trick-or-treat in neighborhoods," she said. "I think a lot of parents are choosing to go that route these days."

Guerra said the best method of protecting children on Halloween is by providing them with a responsible escort.

"I would never discourage any parent going above and beyond and wanting to protect their child. But many of the harms we envision on Halloween can be ruled out just by being present," he said.

PRO: No evidence of more sadism, sex crimes during Halloween



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