Trick-or-treating on Halloween is an American tradition. It happens on a night where it is acceptable to be someone or something different from normalcy.
However, some registered sex offenders will have to stick to their own identities and be forced to opt out on the festivities. Just a month after approving a restriction on Halloween activities for sex offenders, Simi Valley was sued for violating their First Amendment rights.
Adopted Sept. 10, the ordinance prohibits offenders registered in the city from displaying Halloween decorations, answering the door for trick-or-treaters or having outside lighting after dark on Halloween night, according to NBC News. It will also be required to post signs on their front doors reading, in 1-inch letters, “No candy or treats at this residence.”
It’s hard to stay one sided on a subject like this. It seems obvious that the benefits of not allowing sex offenders to participate in Halloween festivities outweighs the argument that they should be allowed to participate.
In a perfect world, those convicted of being a sex offender would not have any rights at all, especially the right to their First Amendment. The steps taken by Simi Valley would be a good precaution to take to avoid victimization of children on Halloween from ever happening in the future.
While most young trick-or-treaters are accompanied by a parent, to whom they have a very low chance of being victimized, there are adolescents who still go out and trick-or-treat. They may go by themselves or in a group. Either way, why take the chance of having someone becoming a victim of sex assault? There would be nothing easier than a minor to unknowingly walk up to the door of a registered sex offender and be lured into the house for “some candy.”
Halloween seems to be the night where people let their guard down, i.e., accepting candy from strangers. Sex offenders are likely to prey on the innocent.
The families of the sex offenders who are are suing the city say that both the prohibition on decorations and the mandatory sign violate free speech rights, according to the lawsuit.
Others told NBC News that making these registered sex offenders put signs on their door is comparable to Jews in Nazi Germany who had to wear the yellow star on their clothing.
How anyone could compare victims of heinous war crimes to those who have committed crimes themselves is beyond me, but the point remains they should be punished for their vulgar offenses.
Although this law would be great to warn people that there is a sex offender at the residence, and in the neighborhood, the problem with this ordinance is that it only paints a picture of safety, that these children are going to be safe on Halloween because the bad houses are highlighted, and may make parents’ safety radars come down.
Another negative is that putting this law into effect means that anyone who does not decorate that night could be mistaken for a sex offender.
Most parents are not concerned with finding out where the sex offenders are located in the neighborhood on Halloween; they’re preoccupied with getting their children in their costume or trying to keep them from eating too much candy by the end of the night.
In reality, it should be the parent’s responsibility and the law to find out which houses have registered sex offenders. We’d like to imagine that for one day, particularly on a holiday, crime stops, but it doesn’t. In past years it wasn’t necessary for parents to be aware of sexual predators, especially on Halloween. However, with knowledge of sex crimes now becoming more public, parents should visit the Megan’s Law website and find out where the registered sex offenders are in their neighborhood.
The responsibility and safety of a child is in the hands of the parents. The law, no matter how extensive, can only take precautions.