13-Year-Olds Can Face Jail Time for Trick-or-Treating

Children tirck-or-treat in Los Angeles, Calif., October 30, 2015. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters )
A growing number of local governments are banning or restricting kids’ Halloween fun.

If you’re a 13-year-old who dares to go trick-or-treating in Chesapeake, Va., this Halloween, you could wind up spending up to six months in jail as a punishment.

That’s right: The city has officially made it a misdemeanor to trick-or-treat if you’re over the age of twelve. The “offense” is punishable by a $100 fine or up to six months in jail.

As completely insane as this sounds, Chesapeake is not the only city to ban or restrict trick-or-treating: The cities of Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk have similar laws. What’s more, the ridiculous regulations don’t stop with the twelve-and-under-only rule. York County demands that all trick-or-treaters regardless of age must be accompanied by an adult in order to partake in the fun.

I have always been proud to say that I trick-or-treated all the way through high school. In fact, Halloween was my favorite holiday for precisely this reason: The joy of dressing up in a costume and walking around the neighborhood with my friends in search of candy was far from lost on me when I turned 13. I mean, I was in high school. What else was I supposed to do? Go to a party and drink? I’m sure that’s what some of the other kids were doing, but I didn’t want to join them — and not just because I was never popular enough to ever be invited to such parties. I loved trick-or-treating because I wanted enjoy my time being a kid as long as possible before I had to grow up. I think being a kid is a wonderful thing. In fact, now that I’m pushing 30, I can say I have absolutely no regrets about not growing up too fast, and I can’t think of a single reason why what I did was wrong, let alone something that deserved jail time.

Those York County rules demanding that parents be with all trick-or-treaters at all times are equally ridiculous. When I was twelve, I definitely went trick-or-treating by myself, and managed to not get abducted or killed. By that age, I knew my neighborhood, and it was fun to have a little bit of independence running around with my friends to get candy. I’m sure that there are plenty of twelve-year-olds in York County who have the exact same capabilities as I did, and it’s sad to see that they won’t get to experience that same level of fun and independence because of the county’s stupid rules.

Halloween is supposed to be a fun time, and it’s a shame to see that local governments seem to be trying their hardest to ruin that. After all, when the Founding Fathers were designing this country’s government, I highly doubt that they envisioned state power being used to stop a 13-year-old from going to a neighbor’s house to ask for candy, much less to threaten that kid with jail time. It’s not hard to see that some cities and counties have forgotten what this country is supposed to be like.

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