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Halloween Sex Offender Laws Every Parent Should Know

Myth: Sex offenders are not allowed to pass out candy on Halloween.

Reality: While there is a restriction on those who are on parole or probation, the vast majority of sex offenders are free to dress in costumes, hand out candy, and even go trick-or-treating.

While many states have passed "no candy" laws, including our neighbor Missouri, Illinois' restrictions on sex offenders are far less strict.

Until 2005, there were no holiday restrictions whatsoever. Even with the changes, the restrictions on sex offenders only apply while they are on parole or probation.

Some of the restrictions include:

  • No participation in "children's" holidays, such as Halloween (this includes handing out candy and wearing a costume);
  • No wearing a Santa Claus costume on Christmas;
  • No employment as a department store Santa;
  • No wearing an Easter Bunny costume on Easter or the days preceding it.

These restrictions apply to activities outside the home or when in the presence of non-familial minors, meaning the costumes and candy are allowable when spending time with one's own children.

Nothing creepy about these guys, right?

Of course, the police aren't going to set up checkpoints and check the ID of every grown man or woman in an Elmo costume. Parents would be well-advised to take a few extra precautions, such as planning a trick-or-treating route that avoids the homes of registered sex offenders who have committed offenses against children. Illinois' online sex-offender registry is available here.

Parents would be wise to remember that not all sex offenders are pedophiles, nor are their relatives. Also, not all dangerous individuals are on the registry, nor are all dangerous individuals sex offenders. It may be wise for parents and guardians to escort children door-to-door and possibly finish trick-or-treating before dark to ensure everyone's safety.

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