WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

What should be the age-limit for Trick-or-Treating?

We'll have plenty of time to return to politics, with Tuesday night's second Presidential debate and many Delaware political debates.

So let me pose what should be a fun question:

What should be the age limit for Trick-or-Treating? And fairly or not, does a child's physical size become a part of that decision rather than just age?

Should parents discourage teens from trick-or-treating (particularly since impulsive teens might be more inclined to resort to tricks)? Should governmental jurisdictions impose an age limit?

In my neighborhood in the Chicago suburbs, 6th grade was pretty much the upper limit for trick-or-treaters, especially guys. For 5th grade, I mapped different neighborhoods and almost raced from house to house, seeking a big haul. I instinctively knew 6th grade would be my final year for trick-or-treating, so I had even more ambitious plans. Then disaster struck. Playing soccer in P.E. that Halloween afternoon of 1966, a big guy fell on my arm. My third broken arm (more precisely, fractured radius)! With my right arm in a sling, no way would my parents let me go out. Besides, no way was I going to get a big haul with an immobilized arm. So much for my trick-or-treating career.

The one mask I recall wearing: Cartoon character Beetle Bailey. Not exactly scary or ghoulish.

By seventh grade, I was involved in our junior high school newspaper and chorus and other activities, and quickly forgot about Halloween. By junior high, I didn't care all that much for candy either, at least not the kind you'd get trick-or-treating - except for perhaps SweetTarts or Sno-Caps. Then and now, I'd much rather have a quality chocolate bar from Switzerland or The Netherlands or the U.K. -- not the sort of thing you got on Halloween, even in the ritzy neighborhoods!

If older guys went out to create mischief, I was unaware. Honestly, I don't recall ANY Halloween "tricks" in our suburbs.

Living here in Delaware (Bear area), it's amazing how FEW trick-or-treaters we get these days; of course, the world seemingly has become a lot more dangerous, and many more parents accompany their youngsters. Don't recall seeing really older trick-or-treaters! Our tree and bushes HAVE sometimes received toilet-paper teepees, although not recently.

One other Halloween angle: Have you ever been invited to an adult Halloween party and participated in one? It seems - in some circles - such parties are quite popular. I can't imagine buying a costume and attending one, which will probably confirm my occasional reputation as a killjoy.

Posted at 7:27am on October 16, 2012 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Tue, Oct 16, 2012 9:42am
I think 8th grade should be the last time I see anyone standing on my steps asking for candy. Parents should not discourage kids from trick-or-treating. Halloween in my neighborhood has always been a time for neighbors to get reacquainted as we walked around with our kids. It's also a good way to demonstrate that our neighborhoods can be safe and friendly.

And for God's sake, do we need the government to get involved? There are already plenty of municipalities, at least in South Jersey, that dictate the hours when kids may go out.

Mike from Delaware
Tue, Oct 16, 2012 10:07am
The age thing works both ways. I've had mothers with an infant in the stroller that had a bag for the baby coming to my door saying trick-or-treat. I felt like giving the mother $2.00, and saying, "Gee, lady, if you need candy THAT badly, here's two bucks go buy yourself your own bag of candy!"

I'm with the other Mike above; it seems weird to have some teen guy coming to your door, who needs a shave, saying trick-or-treat with a bag wanting candy... who probably has a condom in his wallet.

The rule in my neighborhood: If the porch-light isn't on, then that house isn't participating. So when I've run out of candy, I turn off the porch-light. I agree the government sure doesn't need to get into it. This is supposed to a fun night for little kids to dress up and be a pirate or princess for a night, plus get a big bag of candy.

Tue, Oct 16, 2012 11:47am
I do agree that 6th grade really should be the final age for kids to trick/treat. But, what do you guys do when an older "kid" shows up at your door? Refuse and then clean up the "tricks" left afterward on your property via eggs, toilet paper or other such penalty for refusing a young adult candy?...or just toss a few Snicker bars in their bag with a frown?

Then again maybe Allan's right about government involvement. I'm sure Michelle Obama would agree and go the next step to ban Halloween trick/treaters...or at least consider it a crime to hand out candy to kids.

Mike from Delaware
Tue, Oct 16, 2012 11:52am
No, I just give them the same stuff as I give the little kids. I figure at least for this time period, they're out collecting candy; they aren't stealing hub-caps, or using that condom in the back seat of their car - heh heh.

That's what we need, Michelle Obama dictating that we have to give out "healthy" snacks to the kids. Even back in the 1950's, us kids then, didn't want an apple; we wanted candy. My mom had plenty of apples for us to eat, candy though was a harder commodity to come by.

Tue, Oct 16, 2012 12:03pm
Last year, a group of high school girls came trick-or-treating as Eagles cheerleaders. I think they were the perfect age for trick-or-treating!

Tue, Oct 16, 2012 7:09pm
If you don't like trick-or-treaters, simply turn out all your lights and pull your shades. They'll simply pass on by.

Thu, Oct 18, 2012 1:30pm
Beetle Bailey? My that says loads about how times have changed....

Historically, there was something very different about that generation (childhood 50's-60's). Could one say they lived a rather safe and sheltered lifestyle?

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