Halloween is around the corner—a time when small ghosts and goblins will invade our neighborhoods in search of candy, treats and fun. This is a holiday that by nature prompts our kids to ask for more independence, as they’d rather head out with their friends to trick-or-treat than with their parents. They may even ask to travel outside of the neighborhood—and outside of their parents’ comfort zones—to fill up their bags with as much candy as possible.
Halloween is a particularly exciting day for elementary- and middle school-aged kids, and can be useful as a “teachable moment” for parents. If our kids have earned our trust through good behavior and responsible actions, we may choose to allow them extra freedom on this holiday. What has happened in the past is a good indicator of what will happen in the future. “Trust” is the key word; I think we need to be able to trust that our children will make the right choices and decisions if we are to allow them the flexibility they request.
As I write this blog post, my two high school-aged sons are on their way to their first concert in Green Bay for the NFL Kickoff. With about 100,000 people expected to converge on Lambeau field for this event, am I nervous? Of course I am. But my wife and I have that trust factor with our boys and we are confident they will make good decisions.
With all the mischief that typically occurs on Halloween, it’s easy to forget that it is also a fun holiday celebrated with costumes, candy and parties. Here in the town of Menasha, WI, we as law enforcement officials work hard to make this evening not only safe, but enjoyable for everyone. We deliver safety messages throughout elementary schools through our “Officer Friendly” program. This effort provides kids with messages of stranger safety and candy safety. Many of these messages are delivered with the assistance of the “Yell & Tell” program, which was delivered by Jean Davidson— that’s Davidson as in Harley-Davidson. Our patrol officers and firefighters also increase patrols in our neighborhood and have safe candy available for young trick-or-treaters.
Remember, Halloween can be used as an important “teachable moment.” We can use it to remind our kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.