With its gruesome tales, creepy costumes and copious amounts of sweets, it's easy to see why Halloween is a child’s dream and a parent’s nightmare. As if handling the late night sugar rush and monsters under the bed wasn’t enough, there’s also the fear that comes with letting your child take part in traditional trick-or-treating. No one wants to be a helicopter parent, but we're aware that there could be scarier things out that night than a five-year-old dressed as Casper. The threat of the unknown is perhaps most pertinent in cities, where communities are less close-knit, crime is inflated and traffic is abundant.
Cities tend to top Britain’s crime rate tables, with London, Glasgow, Birmingham and Blackpool ranking highest last year. Many inner city areas lack the interwoven communities that can be found in small towns and villages, meaning that your child will most likely be accepting sweets from a complete stranger. Turning to traffic related incidents, British experts have expressed concerns about road safety on Halloween, with recent studies in America showing that this is the night when children are most likely to be involved in accidents. Unfortunately, congestion and higher volumes of cars mean these are, again, more likely to happen in cities.
While these grisly facts might have you replacing the cute witch's costume with cotton wool, there is some good news. According to a survey from property website Zoopla, the most trick-or-treating friendly spots in the UK are actually also in cities, with Cambridge topping the list. Places were graded on crime rates, road safety and the number of households. London came in third place, with Barnet, Bromley and Wandsworth identified as the capital's prime locations for playing the traditional Halloween game.
These stats suggest that cities are not necessarily the trick-or-treating nightmares they are often labelled as. However, the higher crime rates, busy roads and bigger populations mean certain problems that occur everywhere are exaggerated in cities. Clearly it's important to consider these issues, but by following common sense and parental instinct you can protect your kids without ruining their fun.
While your children decide between being a vampire, werewolf or Superman, you can be working out how visible your kids' Halloween costumes will be in the dark. A cunning way to make sure they stand out is to add some glow sticks and bracelets to their outfit. Your kids will see this as a spooky accessory, but it's also a great way to be certain they can be seen. Another way to keep them safe while going along with the Halloween spirit is to get them to try on their costume a few weeks before they go, which allows you to check that their vision, movement and hearing won't be impaired on the night.
If your children are under 12, make sure someone accompanies them on their trick-or-treating trip. This might mean dressing up as Frankenstein, but at least you get first dibs on the sweets! An escort might not be necessary for older kids, but make sure they stick to certain streets in a known area, avoid darkened houses and understand their curfew. By carefully planning ahead, you can keep your children safe in the city while still allowing them to make the most of this kid-friendly festival.