Resolved: The proliferation of nightmarish Halloween yard displays is damaging and antisocial and should be strictly regulated by city ordinances.
I’ve always been a “Dear Abby” reader, largely because it’s fascinating to read the wildly varying extremes of the human condition that people write in about. Yesterday’s “Dear Abby” column included a letter from a mom whose young child was terrified by the annual repulsive display in the yard of a next door neighbor – skeletons, “dead” bodies, bloody knives…I’m sure you’ve seen it. We have more and more of them in our neighborhood every year.
A summary of “Abby’s” reply to the writer : “You can’t protect your child forever. Just tell him it’s all meant in the spirit of fun and it isn’t real.”
Obviously “Abby” has never had or known a child with a sensitive nature. You can’t just give a terrified child a tired platitude and call it good.
I have never been a molly-coddling parent. But I know my children well, and I have always believed it’s my job to recognize their deep needs and respond to them appropriately. We have one child who was (and honestly, still is) bone-deep terrified of the type of Halloween displays in question. Dismissive words from me along the lines of “it’s just a joke, get over it” would simply have told her that her needs are not important to me.
Then, too, childhood education and development have been an important part of my life’s work. I am absolutely convinced that, as a community, we must accept the responsibility to monitor anything we allow children to ingest – from food to video games to television ads to horrific yard displays. Don’t try to give me any crappy arguments against a “nanny state.” If we are to create a healthy, productive society, we must fight for the best for our youngest members. If that means regulating businesses, neighbors, and parents who have hideously bad judgement when it comes to the way they affect children’s healthy development, then so be it.
Grisly Halloween yard displays are a symptom of that kind of hideously bad judgement, as are violent video games, worship of posturing, macho sports figures, and ratings creep in movies. When our children are fed that kind of diet, how can we be surprised when they exhibit ugly, violent, or antisocial behavior?
It’s become almost cliche, but the question “Is it good for the children?” should be the yardstick by which we measure anything out there that our children might consume.