Op-Ed: Trick or Treating Unrightfully Banned?!

Several towns in Virginia have banned trick or treating for teenagers


Brooke Fullerton

It’s finally October, which means it’s time for pumpkin patches, apple ciders, town fairs, and, of course, Halloween. Though Halloween is celebrated in a variety of different ways, including haunted houses, costume parties, and bobbing apples, most families go trick-or-treating. Children can dress up and pretend to be any character they desire, and they can actually safely take candy from strangers around their neighborhood. Trick-or-treating is clearly a fun and beneficial activity, allowing participants to meet new people and experience new surroundings. So, why are some towns in Virginia putting an age limit on this tradition? I think restrictions on trick-or-treating are ridiculous, and people of all ages should be able to celebrate the holiday however they want to.

Several towns in Virginia, including Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach have banned trick-or-treating for children above the age of 12. If a person older than 12 is caught trick-or-treating, they can be charged with several levels of misdemeanor, be faced with fines, and even be thrown in jail. These lawmakers state that these laws are put in place in order to keep the children safe. Although this can be a convincing argument, shouldn’t parents be watching over their children at all times? It’s their responsibility to make sure the children are near them at all times, except for extreme circumstances. People who are trick-or-treating are participating because they want to have fun and celebrate a holiday, not to hurt any children in the process.

Banning teenagers from trick-or-treating is the exact opposite direction us as a society have been fighting for. It seems like children are trying to grow up so fast these days. On the internet, you can see children showing themselves off, making fun of people, and using technology that is way too expensive to be giving to someone who isn’t an adult. A poll taken by mothers of children ages 8-12 has revealed that a majority of parents admit their children are growing up too fast. Though people say they want that to change, these laws that are being enacted are forcing teenagers to think that they are too old to trick-or-treat, and need to start growing up. However, this isn’t the case. Halloween is a holiday for all ages, and all children who want to celebrate it by trick-or-treating should be able to. Childhood is a fond memory most adults look back on with nostalgia, and it should be cherished for as long as it can be.

Ansley Gilpin, who is the associate professor of psychology at the University of Alabama and lead researcher of the “Knowledge in Development” lab, states that, “dressing up and pretending to be someone else helps them [the children] learn to take another person’s perspective and be more empathetic.” Though some people mark dressing up in a costume as silly and laughable, it explores creativity and empathy in people of all ages, and gives them an opportunity to explore other people’s situations and what they’re dealing with. Professor Gilpin also states that “learning how to socialize with friends is really important for kids as they enter high school and college.”

Not only is trick-or-treating beneficial for all ages, but it can help teenagers with their social skills in new settings. A ban on trick-or-treating for teenagers can impact their development in a very harsh way. Trick-or-treating has many positive influences on teenager’s childhood, and can make them enjoy and cherish their childhood. A teenager who wants to celebrate some harmless Halloween fun should not be imprisoned for it.