First and foremost, parents should check the internet to determine if any sex offenders are in the neighborhood where children will be asking for treats. Go to the Sheriff’s Office website at www.wpso.la.gov. Click on the SEX OFFENDERS tab on the upper portion of the screen and follow the directions. Parents, know where sex offenders reside and make certain your children stay away from those houses.
Advise your children not to enter the homes of strangers. Instruct your child to leave immediately if a stranger invites them to come inside a residence and to never get in a car with a stranger. If a stranger approaches them, instruct the child to scream loudly and run away to a safe place.
It is a good idea to write your name, address and phone number on a slip of paper and pin it to the inside of the child’s costume.
Feed your children before trick or treating so they won’t be tempted to eat candy which is given to them.
Instruct your children that you must inspect all candy before they can eat it.
Ideally, parents or other responsible adults should accompany children. Watch them carefully, be aware of traffic and do all you can to make certain children are safe.
It is never a good idea for any person of any age to trick or treat alone. If older children or teen-agers trick or treat without adult supervision, they should always be in a group.
Make certain at least one person in the group has a cell phone and contacts a designated adult at least once each hour.
Know where your children will be trick or treating. Set boundaries as to where they can and cannot go.
Advise children to stop, look and listen before crossing any street and to never cross a street or road between parked cars. Oncoming drivers may not see them.
Costumes and treat bags should be reflective. Costumes and footwear should properly fit so the child will not stumble and fall. Face paint is better than masks since a mask can slip and impair visibility. Costumes should be fire retardant.
Children should always walk, not run, from house to house. Running increases the chance of falling or stumbling on an unseen object.
If children are going to a Halloween party or other function, know where the activity will take place and which adults will provide supervision. Confirm the information.
If a child wants to stay overnight with another child, confirm the overnight stay with the other child’s parent. Never hesitate to check and double check on your child.
If your child is carrying a knife, ax or other instrument as part of the costume, make certain the object is either cardboard or soft plastic.
If children trick or treat alone, they should have a curfew. Be firm with the curfew time and enforce it.
Make certain all children, and especially teen-agers know that vandalism of any form is not acceptable. Throwing eggs at cars or houses, or any other kind of vandalism, may result in a juvenile arrest and punishment.
Always instruct your children carefully before they go trick or treating. Make certain they understand your instructions before you allow them to leave home.
If you drive your children to trick or treat, do not consume any amount of alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription medications which may make you drowsy. Always wear your seatbelt and make certain everyone else in the vehicle does the same.
These are only a few suggestions to help make Halloween a fun and safe experience for children. They are no guarantee of safety, but they do involve common sense tactics to help protect our children. Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies will be patrolling throughout the parish, but we can’t be everywhere at all times. Parents must step in the gap and protect their children.
Anyone can always call the Sheriff’s Office at (985) 839-3434 to report any unusual activity. Be certain to have as much information as possible, such as address, license plate number, physical descriptions, etc.