My name is Dale Grant and, for almost 40 years, I was a Law Enforcement Officer. For most of my career, I served as the Juvenile Officer for Moon Township in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In addition to this role I was also the township’s Community Relations Officer and Crime Prevention Officer. As the Crime Prevention Officer, I oversaw ad conducted the community’ safety programs and public speaking engagements.
When I took over the Juvenile Officer position, I felt it was important to make a positive connection with school aged children in the community. I started what would become my favorite role as a Police Officer when I instituted a program of going into the classrooms and conducting safety presentations.
By far, my favorite were the Kindergarten classes. Each month I was in every kindergarten class in the district, spending so much time in the schools that I was considered part of the staff. All in all, I did over 100 appearances in classrooms a year from daycare to High School, talking about everything from Stranger Danger to programs focused on what to do if you encounter an unattended gun in the home.
However, of all the programs I did, the Halloween Safety was my favorite. I knew how excited the kids were about the holiday and I wanted it to be a fun and, most importantly, a safe night. These were some of the most important tips for safe Trick or Treating.
- Always trick or treat with an adult. This could be parents, a friend’s parent, a high school age RESPONSIBLE brother or sister. Remember, it can be dark and scary out there. Safety in numbers is always best.
- Always wear a light-colored costume, add reflective tape, or have some kind of flashlight or glow stick. Little ones can be hard to see in the dark and can easily be tripped over by parents and overly excited older kids.
- Be extremely careful crossing the street, its dark out and drivers either aren’t used to seeing children out after dark or they are so busy looking at the costumes they forget about their driving. It’s of course best for kids to hold the hand of that trusted adult.
- Make sure that your child’s costume fits properly; nothing can ruin the excitement like tripping and falling. You don’t want to have to take them home to get fixed up, or worse yet, require a visit to the hospital while their friends are still out trick or treating.
- Leave all the props at home, kids only have two hands, and both are going to be busy. One should be holding their flashlight and the other one their candy bag.
- A white pillowcase or reflective bags are the best candy procurement vessels as they will alert drivers to the fact a child is attached to it.
- Always stay in your own neighborhood. Kids feel safer and are less likely to get lost if you are separated. There is comfort in knowing they are surrounded by friends, and parents they know who will help in an emergency. If nothing else, they will know how to get home.
- Remember to reinforce the rules about strangers: If you don’t know them don’t talk to them or take anything from them. This can be confusing within the context of Trick or Treat and it’s important to emphasize the difference between knocking on a neighbor’s door during Trick or Treat and a stranger approaching them on the street. The most important thing to stress is that if they are invited into a stranger’s home or vehicle that they should politely but firmly say “No” and tell an adult as soon as possible.
- It’s very important to stress that kids should wait until they get home to eat their candy or at the very least until their parents say it’s ok.
Most of these are obviously common sense, however, with the hustle and bustle of the holiday, its easy to forget the basics. It’s important to just take a few minutes before your kids head out to have a game plan and reemphasize the basics.
Remember to stress to your children: BE SAFE, BE KIND, AND HAVE FUN
Also…it’s a good idea to share your candy with your parents.