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  • Writer's pictureSamuel Crane

How Old is Too Old to Trick or Treat?

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Halloween is under a week away and many high schoolers are questioning what they’re going to do. Some will handout candy, some will go to a party, others might stay in, but is it okay for a high schooler to dress up and trick or treat?

Students have varying opinions on when it is too late to trick-or-treat. Loveland High School student Owen George (11) says it is “alright until you’re 16” while Alex Tew (11) says that “there is no definitive age to stop, but most do around middle school.”

Some cities in Virginia like Suffolk, Norfolk, and Portsmouth prohibit trick-or-treating over the age of 12.

The main concern with allowing older kids to trick-or-treat is the competition it creates for the younger kids. It is no fun when the 17-year-old empties the entire candy bowl into his bag early in the night leaving the children with nothing. Older teens are also quicker and more efficient with candy grabbing and they may get large amounts of candy before younger children are able to get enough. Others argue that integrating older kids with younger kids could also be bad because teenagers may set poor examples for younger kids as they may misbehave, which may rub off on the younger kids and teach them bad lessons. If you put the 2 demographics together it creates an unhappy medium for all. Older high schoolers are perceived as young adults by some which exemplifies the mental gap between someone who is 16 versus someone who is 13. Although the brain doesn't fully mature well into your 20s, the older teen is at a very different point in his/her mental development than a middle schooler.

On the other hand, allowing older kids to trick-or-treat can egg on the younger kids' excitement by showing them that an older kid can do it too. Etiquette expert Catherine Newman believes this, as she told Today Parents that, “If a 17-year-old wants to dress up with their friends and trade candy at the end of the night, I think that’s great, little kids die of happiness when they see big kids dressed up. It validates their excitement." Another good reason to include older kids is that a teenager is more likely to stay out of trouble when he/she trick-or-treats rather than doing risky things with their peers at parties and social gatherings.

Although most communities have no age limit on Halloween festivities, some cities have decided to make it illegal for high schoolers to trick or treat. The city of Chesapeake, Virginia, actually has a law that makes trick-or-treating over the age of 14 a criminal offense with it being a class 4 misdemeanor.

There isn't a definitive conclusion to the question. Some will say it is ridiculous, while others will say who cares to an age limit. This question is one for you and your friends to decide, as there are a lot of opinions on both sides and there really is no correct answer. Think deeply when you ask yourself the question, “How old is too old to trick-or-treat?”

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