Halloween 2023: a tragedy for many - by SandyRozek

In the days and weeks before Halloween, sheriffs’ offices and media outlets implied that Halloween could bring danger to children who were trick-or-treating. Their messages of how to avoid this impending danger focused on the sex offender registry and the registrants on it. They urged parents to check the registry and to utilize the apps that allow them to zero in on any given location and find out exactly where the “sex offenders” live so that those homes can be avoided while trick-or-treating—because surely, if an unsuspecting child knocked on the door of a registrant, he or she would be in certain and imminent danger. Some counties and parishes even required registrants to have signs at their homes warning the little goblins away.

Halloween 2023 is behind us; were any children injured or harmed in any way?


In fact, 2023 appears to be setting records in the number of such incidents.

The research that produced these incidents and this information is not finite; there well may be more. This, however, is what was found.

Gun incidents

Seven separate incidents in seven different states resulted in six youth and several adults dead and a host of other victims, some of them also juveniles, wounded during Halloween parties or trick-or-treat activities.

In Pennsylvania a fourteen-year-old lost his life when Halloween groups of youth became confrontational in a parking lot. Multiple shots were fired into the crowd, killing him and injuring two others. Another triple shooting in Delaware left two teens and a twenty-year-old injured.

In Tampa, Florida, a conflict between two groups during a Halloween street party resulted in the deaths of two, one a young teen, and left eighteen wounded. A California youth attending a Halloween party was shot and killed after shots were fired; another teenager at the same party was also shot but survived.

In Las Vegas, Nevada, a teen was murdered on the street when a group of trick-or-treaters opened fire at another group. At a massive Halloween party in Indianapolis, Indiana, a teenage girl died from gunshot wounds and nine others, six of them teens, were wounded after gunfire erupted. Police found six guns in the home. A sixteen-year-old was shot at another Halloween party in Arizona and later died in the hospital.

Automobile injuries and deaths

2023 appears to have set records for collisions with trick-or-treating children in hit and run and other automobile conflicts.

A four-year-old little boy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was hit by a hit-and-run driver while he was trick-or-treating with his parents; his injuries, thankfully, were minor. Another four-year-old in Birmingham, Alabama, also a hit-and-run victim, was not so fortunate; he remains in critical condition as of this writing. Another child and the adult with them were also hit, but their injuries were not as serious.

Pennsylvania again was the scene of another auto-pedestrian accident with two trick-or treaters; the driver was taken into custody the next day. The children were taken to the hospital; their injuries were relatively minor. Two five-year-olds were injured in Florida while trick-or-treating when they darted into the street. Their injuries were fortunately non-life-threatening. In Monroe, North Carolina, two young victims, ages five and ten were hit by an automobile while trick-or-treating and are recovering from their injuries.

Oklahoma, like Pennsylvania, was the scene for multiple accidents with two separate incidents of automobiles colliding with pedestrians, resulting in three injured trick-or-treating teenagers. While they were all taken to hospitals, none of the injuries were life-threatening.

The deepest tragedies occurred in Georgia and Minnesota where two children under the age of twelve died on Halloween evening. The seven-year-old little girl in Minnesota was not hit by a car, but, dressed in her Halloween costume, was in her mother’s car when it went off the road and crashed. Her mother survived; she did not. The report says that alcohol may have played a role in the accident and that charges will be filed. The report speculates that they were on their way home after trick-or-treating.

An eleven-year-old boy in Georgia was trick-or-treating in Atlanta when he was struck. He was taken to the hospital and died there. The driver was not judged to be at fault.

Halloween 2023 was not good for many families. Guns and cars injured and killed their children.

Guns and cars. No sexual assaults of children by registrants. No children murdered by someone on the registry. Many states and jurisdiction have no laws prohibiting registrants from welcoming trick-or-treaters and handing out candy. Nothing stopped those registrants from abducting and molesting a child. But they didn’t. As far as can be determined, in all the years of the registry, no child has been abducted, molested, or murdered by a registered person in connection with Halloween or trick-or-treat.

Maybe we need to pay more attention to careless gun owners and drivers of automobiles on Halloween. Maybe instead of sending out troops of officers to check whether registrants’ lights are on or off, troops of officers need to be on the streets, at crossings, in neighborhoods.

Maybe we need to stop focusing on registrants as the first cause of harm to children when, in reality, they are the last.

Written by 

Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.