To be blunt, the combination of pint-sized trick-or-treaters and sexual predators with candy in their hands sounds like a marriage made in hell. The ghouls and goblins of Halloween are not always wearing a costume.
To their credit, parents have made great strides in recent years to minimize the risk of sexual abuse. Supervised "trunk-or-treat" events in church parking lots are now the norm. And when tots do take to the streets for treats, they are almost always accompanied by parents or a responsible adult.
On the other side of things, cities such as Baltimore are now asking sex offenders to post lawn signs that read "No candy at this residence." Other cities have had success with the program. In Maryland last year, no sex offender violated parole after the signs went up. It's also not uncommon for law-enforcement officers to drop by a predator's residence on Oct. 31 just to make sure things are kosher. And most sex offenders are required to keep a good distance from youngsters.
So, should Utah try the "no candy here" signs?
There are concerns. For some people, it feels a bit draconian — like putting a scarlet letter on the front of a pinafore or binding people in the public square. But then sex offenders are a special case. Some of them re-offend, so perhaps such desperate people do require desperate measures.
Still, the important thing is parents should keep in mind that the chances of a tot in costume being sexually abused after they get home from from trick-or-treating is greater than being abused along the way. The spooky old stranger up the street is still not as dangerous as that spooky old family member. What's more, there is a danger that "no candy here" signs and other measures give a false sense of security. Halloween mishaps are few because of the vigilance of parents, the police and neighbors each year. More than a sign on a lawn, the real way to curb predators is to take the watchful eye people cast on their children during the Halloween holiday and expand it to include all the nights, all the year round.