Reader spooked by paper’s Halloween link to sex offenders

I am responding to The Citizen vol. 21, No. 1,008 from Wednesday, Oct 30.

I love Halloween. Autumn has always been my favorite season, and Halloween was always the grand finale for me as a kid.

Being at the age where I am too old to partake in the Halloween festivities that children enjoy, yet not having kids of my own to take trick-or-treating, my Halloweens these days are little more than a night-long marathon of scary movies. Nonetheless, I still look forward to Oct. 31 like I did when I was young.

Anyways, last Wednesday, I stood outside and took in another perfect fall morning on my way out to grab the paper. I picked it up, unfolded it, and what do I see? ”Sheriff Babb: Map sex offenders before kids’ trick or treat Thursday.”

As one would imagine, the article involved Sheriff Babb encouraging residents to look up the addresses of registered sex offenders in the area. Right below the headline were lovely mug shots of two local sex offenders that would make one of those trashy $1 gas station mug shot pamphlets envious.

Personally, I think the timing and placement of this “warning” couldn’t have been more carelessly thought out. I mean, come on, these guys will be obviously be wearing “Scream” or “Jason” masks on Halloween night, so why even bother with the pictures?

In all seriousness, though, I think running this on the front page the day before Halloween is disgraceful and disgusting. Has The Citizen stooped so low as to take on the marketing strategy of the cheesy gas station booklets?

I understand the importance and value the article has in informing people of possible danger out there. But don’t you think you could have found a more practical location to print it? Think of how many kids fetch the morning paper for their parents every day.

When I was young, I was up reading our newspapers before my parents were even awake. Seeing a story like this, with the pictures of two scary looking dudes to go with it, would have spooked me in a way that Netherworld haunted house couldn’t even hope for.

As I read the article, I imagined some equally spooked parents around town saying to their children, “Sorry kids, we’re just going to stay in and watch TV instead of trick-or-treating this year. Don’t worry, you can have the candy that we were going to pass out, since nobody else will be trick-or-treating either.”

Too bad Apple hasn’t come up with a trick-or-treating app that would allow children to safely trick-or-treat inside their own homes. Actually, I think Nintendo could potentially pull that one off: ”Okay kids, time for another year of ‘Wii Halloween!’”

Now don’t get me wrong, I think a Halloween safety article is a great idea and highly beneficial for readers. However, in the future, I think an article detailing several precautionary tips for parents for Halloween night would be better than one focusing entirely on sex offenders.

As I outgrew trick-or-treating, I looked back on how much fun I had getting all dressed up with my parents and siblings, and started looking forward to being able to share that experience with my own kids someday. Sadly, I fear that trick-or-treating has about as much time left as flip phones and textbooks.

We didn’t have a single trick-or-treater come to our door last night. Not one. Granted, my neighborhood is not huge, and doesn’t have as many children as it did when I was growing up, but I still found it odd that our doorbell wasn’t even rung once.

I began to wonder if the sex offender article kept some families indoors that would have otherwise been outside at dusk going door-to-door in search of treats. Maybe the article was a contributing factor, maybe not.

Either way, there’s no arguing that articles and stories such as the one published on Wednesday that we see in the paper or on the news are drops in the bucket that is the ever-increasing paranoia of the general public.

I think it’s a shame that our community newspaper chose to highlight sex offenders the day before Halloween instead of running an article on some of the more positive aspects of the season.

The infamous words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt keep echoing in my head: ”The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” On Halloween, that fear should be in the form of ghouls, ghosts, and goblins that parade around the streets once the sun starts to set, not the select few monsters that the media leads us to believe inhabit every street in town.

Brooks Pfeifer
Peachtree City, Ga.

NUK_1
NUK_1's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/17/2007
You missed the point entirely

What FCSO is trying to do is shine a bright enough flashlight on sex offenders so they will MOVE ELSEWHERE. How do you not realize this because it's so obvious? Babb and everyone else doesn't want pedophiles living here and is going to try and make life uncomfy for them....duh.

We can all argue about how "sex offender status" in GA may be very warped(it is) in that an 18 year old who has consensual relations with a "16 year old minor" are lumped together with sicko child freaks and rapists, but the point is very clear: go somewhere else besides FC or we are not going to let you go unnoticed.

Nothing wrong at all about what the FCSO is trying to accomplish here.

Rec Guy
Rec Guy's picture
Offline
Joined: 03/19/2012
The article didn't scare anyone!

Kudos to the Citizen for running the article!

Even though we live in a relatively "safe" community, residents need to be reminded that child predators are everywhere. What an incredible waste of time to write a 782 word letter against the article just because you don't agree with local law enforcements warning and the editors decision to publish. You logic is flawed, no one stated home on Halloween because of the article. Geez!

Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/23/2012
Halloween is my Fav Holiday too

But I think once you get married and start a family, you realize its your responsibility to be a protector of your child and others.

As a parent, I was glad Sheriff Babb reminded us to be vigilant. Both my wife and myself performed a search and luckily found no one within our Halloween radius my kids were going to visit.

One day, when you have kids, you will appreciate this more.

stranger than f...
stranger than fiction's picture
Offline
Joined: 06/27/2012
Perception Trumps Reality

Even though there is no research evidence to support the notion that a child is more likely to be a victim of sexual assault on Halloween, it plays well for local law enforcement to appear vigilant. Perception always trumps reality, and truth is usually stranger than fiction.