Saturday, October 25, 2014

Halloween Trunk-or-Treating

1953 Cadillac Eldorado trunk. Photo courtesy of GM.
I know that to some people I might seem paranoid, but I would just say I'm vigilant. When I was a teenager I wanted to be an FBI agent, until I found out how often I could be moved all over the country. Still, I have a sense for how criminals work, and since have done volunteer work with people who are incarcerated. This sense for how the criminally deviant work is one of several reasons why I truly believe the trunk-or-treat phenomena is a bad idea.

Just the other day we had someone in our neighborhood post a trunk-or-treat invitation on our door. It a nutshell, it's an alternative to traditional trick-or-treating where the kids gather in a parking lot and the adults pull up with their cars, handing candy out of their trunk. The idea is that going from house to house is dangerous, while this form of activity is not. The sad truth is that trunk-or-treating isn't without its own perils.

First of all, I can tell you that having kids be so comfortable about running around in a parking lot is a bad idea. Children are run over by vehicles all the time. Considering that beltlines (the bottom of the windows) on vehicles have been raised to accommodate more safety features, and that a growing number of vehicles on the road are crossovers with limited rearward visibility, this is a recipe for disaster. Sure, some vehicles have rearview cameras,, but there currently are no standards for those cameras. Some independent tests have shown that a grown adult can lay behind a vehicle and not be seen by certain cameras.

Even more dangerous is the fact that if there isn't a control on who enters the parking lot with their vehicle, the perception that trunk-or-treating is a safer practice is destroyed. It's far worse for a child to be dragged into a vehicle that can travel to a number of locations than for something to happen in a home. Some adults accompany children from vehicle to vehicle as they go throughout the parking lot getting candy, while others don't because trunk-or-treating is supposedly bullet-proof in its safety. Ideally, you would have people checking in each vehicle at every entrance to the parking lot, taking quick photos of the driver, vehicle, and license plate while collecting some quick info.

One of the biggest problems I have with trunk-or-treating is that it can be exclusionary. Where I live, it's always held at church parking lots. That's hardly mutual ground, which is why almost everyone who goes to them are people who belong to that church. Then those people don't participate in trick-or-treating on Halloween (the trunk-or-treat is always held in advance of Halloween). It might sound silly, but it starts to make some people feel like the community isn't that united.

So there you go, I guess I'm anti trunk-or-treating. I might be a car guy, but some activities just shouldn't involve vehicles.

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