That's not to say parents shouldn't use caution or supervision but the findings raise questions about the wisdom of law enforcement practices aimed at dealing with a problem that does not appear to exist.
Using the National Incident-Base Reporting System, the study looked at more than 67,000 non-family sex offenses reported to law enforcement in 30 states across nine years. Taking into account such variables as time, seasonality and weekday periodicity, the researchers found no increased rate of sexual abuse during the Halloween season. Additionally, the number of reported incidences didn't vary before or after police procedures were implemented to prevent such abuse.
Research has found that the highest danger for children during the Halloween season was from pedestrian- motor vehicle accidents, not from sexual abuse by strangers.
"It is important for policy makers to consider allocation of resources in light of the actual increased risks that exist in areas besides Halloween sex offender policies," the authors conclude. "Our findings indicated that sex crimes against children by nonfamily members account for 2 out of every 1,000 Halloween crimes, calling into question the justification for diverting law enforcement resources away from more prevalent public safety concerns."
Article: Mark Chaffin, Jill Levenson, Elizabeth Letourneau and Paul Stern, 'How Safe Are Trick-or-Treaters?: An Analysis of Child Sex Crime Rates on Halloween', SEX ABUSE 2009; 21; 363 originally published online Jul 6, 2009, DOI: 10.1177/1079063209340143