SPECIAL REPORT: All trick, no treat

Special Reports

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB)- With every Halloween comes a parent’s concern for their child’s safety. Parents worry about the health and safety of their children year-round, but the Halloween holiday certainly throws a little more concern than usual into the mix. 

Over the years, you read horror stories online about what was found in a child’s candy or about a child who drifted away from the group, getting into some other sort of trouble, and as of the early 2000s, the fear of sexual predators and offenders on Halloween came to life. 

However, is there any legitimacy to the claim of an increase in danger when it comes to sex offenders on Halloween? Sandy Rozek, the Communications Director for the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NARSOL) says it’s a common misconception. 

“Researchers got involved, they did research and indeed found that there’s absolutely nothing unique about Halloween in connection with the abuse of children, activities of people on the registry toward children. There’s nothing there,” said Rozek. 

Rozek regularly blogs about sexual offense issues and recently wrote a piece regarding signs placed on the lawns of sexual offenders and predators during Halloween. She and her colleagues see this as a violation of an offender’s constitutional rights and condemn the actions of the sheriff’s office responsible for placing the signs. 

NARSOL has published a number of articles pertaining to the Halloween holiday to clear up the common misconceptions and outline the rules that offenders and predators must follow on the holiday.

“They must be in their homes, they have to have their lights off and they’ll be checked on. The County deputies go out and check that they don’t have Halloween decorations up or they don’t have lights on or that they’re not doing anything to make their home attractive,” she said.

While these offenders have a set of rules to follow, it’s up to the Bay County Sheriff’s office to enforce them in our area. Officers like Sergeant Michael Morris routinely patrol and check up on sexual offenders and predators with Halloween being no exception. 

“Could be in the middle of the night, could be first thing in the morning, so we don’t ever have a certain pattern that we follow so that way, if they’re up to no good or something like that, that way they don’t know when we’re going to show up and check on them,” said Bay Co. Sheriff’s Office, Sgt. Michael Morris.

Rozek says that the Halloween holiday can still be dangerous for your child, but sexual offenders have nothing to do with it. “There’s never, as far as we can tell, been a child harmed in any way during trick or treating by a person on the registry, but every single year, several children are killed trick or treating. Research has discovered that there is an increased risk on Halloween for your children and it is the risk of being hit by a car. There are four times as many child deaths during trick or treat hours by auto-pedestrian accidents than any other night of the year,” she said. 

Sgt. Morris agrees that safety on the roadways is also a concern and that’s why they boost neighborhood patrols on that night. However, while officers do their part to keep the children safe, they also urge parents to do the same. 

“Even though you kid may have a cool Spiderman costume, make sure it has reflective vest or something like that or maybe like a glowstick to keep on them cause they’re going to be darting in and out of traffic, there’s going to be vehicles going in and out of neighborhoods, and you just want to keep your kids very close to you so they don’t come out in front of a car or anything like that,” said Morris. 

As far as concerns regarding sex offenders on Halloween, officers will be patrolling and Rozek says a majority of these one-time offenders have not re-offended and will not re-offend. For anyone who still has concerns regarding the whereabouts of sex offenders and predators in their neighborhood, they can simply look it up online. 

“For anyone who wants to know, all they have to do is go to their state registry and find out if they’ve registered. So anyone has access to that information,” said Rozek.

To see nearby offenders in your neighborhood, head to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s website. To read more about the mission of NARSOL, click here.  

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