But it’s not the myth about razorblades in apples or pins in chocolate bars that have parents wary about sending their little ghouls and ghosts trick-or-treating at strangers’ houses. Much of the worry these days relates to who exactly is living in the homes throughout local communities and if they have ever been convicted of a sex crime. And while according to a 2009 study titled Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, children are no more prone to threats by sexual predators on Halloween than on any other day of the year and law enforcement statistics state that the rate of sexual crimes against children do not increase on Halloween, parents still want assurances that their children will be safe.
Laws that restrict the activities of known sex offenders vary greatly from state to state. Following earlier laws targeting sex offenders—such as Megan’s Law and other residency restriction laws—at least 10 states have enacted restrictions on the activities of sex offenders on Halloween. According to FindLaw.com, these laws often fall into one of two categories: specific restrictions on registered sex offenders and restrictions on paroled sex offenders.
To that end, New York State implemented the “Halloween: Zero Tolerance” law in 2006, which allows officials to make “unannounced home visits, curfew checks and phone calls to enforce the law,” with the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision imposing special conditions on sex offenders under its supervision. These special conditions require that sex offenders remain indoors at home on Halloween, not wear Halloween costumes, not open their doors to trick-or-treaters and not have Halloween candy in their possession.
Meanwhile, the New York law allows for hundreds of parole officers across the state to conduct zero tolerance, face-to-face home visits with sex offenders on Halloween to ensure they are complying with the rules put in place.
In terms of doing their own due diligence, parents can scour the Internet for resources informing them on which houses to avoid on Halloween, should they be so inclined to do so. The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services allows residents to search its public registry of sex offenders at www.criminaljustice.ny.gov. The search details the offender’s current address, as well as the type of offense they were accused of committing.
But just to be clear—it is illegal to use any information gleaned from a sex registry to commit a crime or engage in any discrimination or harassment against an offender. And according to FindLaw.com, “laws restricting the rights of sex offenders on Halloween carry a criminal penalty. Registered or paroled sex offenders must follow the rules set forth by their state or local municipality, as it applies to their situation.”
If you want to stay on the safe side this Halloween, there are a number of Halloween events being held in the area.
On Saturday and Sunday, Oct 20 and 21, Adventureland will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for trick-or-treating and spooky theme park fun.
On Saturday, Oct. 27, a Halloween parade, complete with kids activities, a petting zoo and pony rides, will be hosted on Main Street from 1 to 3 p.m.
Also on Oct. 27, is St. Luke’s Lutheran Church’s, 170 Conklin St., Trunk or Treat from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Crafts and light refreshments will be available in the parking lot and in the activities center.
On Sunday, Oct. 28, The American Airpower Museum, 1230 New Highway in Farmingdale, will transform into the American Scarepower Museum for their Halloween event. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., enjoy trick or treating, scavenger hunts, crafts, games, face painting and more.
On Wednesday, Oct. 31, the Farmingdale Library will host children ages 1 to 4 from 10 to 11 a.m. for a Halloween dance party and trick-or-treating around the library.
The Broadway Mall in Hicksville will also be the site of Halloween fun, with a costume contest, cookie decorating, music and face-painting on Wednesday, Oct. 31, from 4 to 6 p.m.