A week of Halloween myths – Day 5

This week I’m doing a special 5-part series related to spooky Halloween-related myths.

Today’s myth: Halloween.

There are several myths related to Halloween.

Food
Friends and parents used to tell me tales of razorblades in apples, poison in homemade goods, needle marks in store-bought candy, etc etc. Thanks, you really made my Halloween fun and not at all scary and paranoid. Tales of poisoning are urban legends. Although some assholes in rare cases have tried poisoning, in general people are safe to eat their goods on Halloween as publicized cases were found out to have been targeted at specific victims. It’s rare that someone will be malevolent enough to commit such a random act of violence and at the same time be ok with being unable to witness the pay-off (as the victims will have been long gone before eating the candy).

However, there are documented cases of pins, needles, and razors in Halloween food. Although cutting up ones mouth is painful, it is a mere annoyance compared to death by poisoning. Should the sharp object enter the GI tract, though, it could cause some life-threatening damage. As these are solid objects, there are precautions that can prevent harm such as breaking the food into smaller pieces before eating or slicing into fruit rather than taking a bite. So although it is possible that this could occur, the chances are remote and injury is preventable with a cursory examination of the food. No need to be so anxious as to avoid Halloween festivities altogether.

Crime
A few hours of web research on crime statistics brought me nothing. Perhaps someone with better searching skills can update me on this, but I was unable to find misdemeanor (or any other) crimes broken down by month and could not find individual Halloween statistics that weren’t from “concerned parent” type blogs. So I was unable to conclusively determine if there is an actual peak in crime on Halloween, as parental convention has it. I would be very grateful for this information if anyone has it. There may be an increased likelihood of mischief (toilet papering, egging, broken jack-o-lanterns, etc), but these events are certainly nothing to be concerned about — annoyed, maybe, but not concerned. In the case of crime, however, I was unable to determine if there was anything to justify people’s paranoia that criminals (actual criminals committing actual crimes) will be about on Halloween more so than any other night.

General Weirdness
Don’t worry, they’re just costumes.

I already covered witches. Weird doesn’t necessarily mean bad, scary, or evil.

In general, Halloween is a night for fun, candy, and hi-jinks. Sure there might be some dicks out there, but in general people are just out for a good time. So there appears to be no need to be any more vigilant on Halloween than any other night (unless I find crime statistics to tell me otherwise — in which case, I will update). However, I suspect that the same precautions on Halloween as any other night (walk home with a friend, etc) will go a long way in being more safe without having to increase general paranoia and spoil everyone’s fun.

Drink in moderation, folks!
Thanks for reading my Halloween special series!

UPDATE: Please see comments section for more information.

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2 responses to “A week of Halloween myths – Day 5

  1. http://www42.statcan.ca/smr08/smr08_094-eng.htm

    Here ya go, sweetie. Statistics Canada has a page of “scary stats” as well as Halloween stats. Of special attention to your blog topic:

    Increase in criminal activity

    Note: Data are provided from a non-representative subset of 148 police services.

    56% — The proportion of all criminal incidents reported during Hallowe’en 2006 that were violations against property.

    18% — The proportion of all criminal incidents reported during Hallowe’en 2006 that were violations against the person.

    11% — The percentage increase in Other Criminal Code violations such as weapons-related offences, public morals and disturbing the peace reported during Hallowe’en 2006 compared to a week earlier (i.e. October 24, 2006).

    38% — The percentage increase in violent offences such as robbery, aggravated assault, assaults causing bodily harm and assaults against police officers reported during Hallowe’en 2006 compared to a week earlier (i.e. October 24, 2006).

    22% — The percentage increase in property violations, including general mischief and arson reported to police during Hallowe’en 2006 compared to a week earlier (i.e. October 24, 2006).

    14% — The percentage increase in drug violations reported to police during Hallowe’en 2006 compared to a week earlier (i.e. October 24, 2006).

    44% — The percentage increase in Criminal Code traffic violations reported during Hallowe’en 2006 compared to a week earlier (i.e. October 24, 2004).

    Hope that helps!

  2. Kimbo Jones

    Another mysteriously removed comment reposted:

    Kimbo Jones 2008/11/01 at 2:07pm

    Thanks for the link. Actually, I saw those statistics. But they also gave statistics on hauntings…so I was less than inclined to use them. :)

    The first 2 stats don’t indicate an increase, only a proportion of crime. There’s an increase in mischief, crime against police, etc. And the last 3 statistics specify “reported to police” — which may mean that people are more vigilant, but not necessarily that there was an actual increase compared to other days.

    The most interesting bit is:

    38% — The percentage increase in violent offences such as robbery, aggravated assault, assaults causing bodily harm and assaults against police officers reported during Hallowe’en 2006 compared to a week earlier (i.e. October 24, 2006).

    But again, it’s tough to know if the “increase” is due to police vigilance and an increase police presence on Halloween, or a real increase. There’s also no useful data on the situations of these crimes. Are these crimes something the average person has to worry about when trick-or-treating? Are these things happening outside of bars at 3am?