Teenagers get a bad rap during Halloween. Perhaps other children and adults are frightened by seeing a large group of teens walking the streets. Perhaps they don’t dress, and take more candy than they are supposed to? Maybe they ring doorbells too late, or aren’t polite?

But when cities begin banning trick-or-treating after certain ages, with some even making it a misdemeanor for teenagers to trick or treat, it seems a little ridiculous.

In one Virginia town, teenagers who go trick-or-treating could wind up landing in jail. Anyone 13 and older who goes door-to-door asking for candy in Chesapeake could face up to six months in jail! If they try, they’re liable to get slapped with a misdemeanor.

“If any person over the age of 12 years shall engage in the activity commonly known as ‘trick or treat’ or any other activity of similar character or nature under any name whatsoever, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than $25.00 nor more than $100.00 or by confinement in jail for not more than six months or both.”

And not just in Chesapeake; eight other Virginia towns have made it illegal to trick-or-treat if you’re over 12.

There are also a handful of cities across the country who’ve also made the age limit 12 for those who can travel door-to-door for candy.

The good news is, while teen violators could face jail or fines up to $100, such laws are rarely strictly enforced. Police officers are prowling the streets looking for kids who appear older than 12; they’re more concerned about making trouble in the neighborhood, like egging houses and smashing pumpkins.

My son is a teen himself, and he still would like to go out trick-or-treating this year. I don’t see why he can’t – if he’s still having fun doing so, he should be able to take part. He’s 14 – which is my books, he’s still a child – and likely it’ll be the last year he’ll go. Yes, my teen will trick or treat!

If a teenager comes to our home in a costume, at a reasonable hour, and is respectful and polite, of course I will give them candy. Allowing teens to have old-fashioned childish fun for a few extra years by trick-or-treating is a non-issue. Also, I’d rather have teens trick-or-treating instead of out causing trouble or playing Halloween pranks.


Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of amotherworld.com, a leading lifestyle blog for women.

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