Trick-or-Treating: How Old is Too Old? | Jasmine Elasaad
Picture this: you’re back in eighth grade, buzzing with excitement for Halloween night. You’re standing outside with your friends, waiting for the sun to set, and adorned in the perfect costume that you’ve spent the past month assembling. Ready for a fun-filled evening, you knock on your first door, eager with anticipation, only to be shot with a dirty look by the adult who greets you. Reluctantly they hand you a piece of candy. “Aren’t you a little too old to be trick-or-treating?” House after house, the exact same thing happens. Mood soured, you decide to head home and just watch a scary movie instead. The Halloween magic has been spoiled, and your once favorite holiday has just become a little less special.
It has generally been accepted that trick-or-treating should be limited to kids twelve years old and younger. In fact, a survey conducted by Today revealed that 73% of Americans believe that teens should just stop trick-or-treating altogether. Some towns, like Upper Deerfield Township, New Jersey, have even instated laws that prevent older kids from partaking in the activity. Others take it a step further, and consider trick-or-treating an actual crime -- teens who violate the law can be fined up to $100 in cities like Chesapeake, Virginia. Many people argue that such measures are all in the interest of public safety; after all, it’s not uncommon for teenagers to scare little kids, vandalize houses (be it through smashing pumpkins or toilet-papering), steal candy, or wreak havoc through other means. Other parents just don’t want their child’s night to be spoiled by loud-mouthed teenagers.
Opposers of these regulations argue that parents should treat all trick-or-treaters who come by with respect. They believe that everyone is entitled to revel in the Halloween magic and relive their childhood memories if they so please. It’s also important to remember that appearances can be deceiving. Just because a kid is tall or has a deep voice doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t twelve years old. Adults should also take into consideration developmental disorders before turning away the trick-or-treater before them -- the truth is that we don’t know anything about the person standing at our doorstep. And what’s the harm in a little trick-or-treating anyway, so long as you’re not posing a domestic disturbance?
But say you’re a teenager living in a town whose restrictions make it near impossible to trick-or-treat; what can you do instead? Well, most of you are at the age now where you can drive and pick out whatever candy you desire, and in whatever quantity you want. You no longer have to deal with lame Halloween candy like Smarties (seriously, who likes those?) that you would just throw away upon returning home, or risk sinking your teeth into tampered candy containing a sharp object. You also have the option of passing on the torch: you can help spread the Halloween spirit to little kids by passing out candy to them, or by outdoing your neighbors with the spooky decorations. You can host parties where you can bob for apples (if that doesn’t completely gross you out) or throw on a scary movie if that’s your kind of thing.