A Loss of Innocence

When you think of Halloween, what comes to mind? Costumes, perhaps. Dressing up as a pirate with a sword. Perhaps your favorite Star Wars character with a blaster. Batman, with his utility belt.

Think again. As society has gotten increasingly scared of children with weapons, they are banning the weapons that are associated with costumed characters. Don’t believe me? Read the New York Times. Today there was an article on the subject, talking about a Halloween parade at a local elementary school. Quoting from the article:

As parents snapped photos and chased the characters they loved most with video recorders, boys and girls dressed in traditional costumes that should have included toy weapons looked as if they had been frisked and disarmed during circle reading time.

The parade included a devil with no pitchfork, a Power Ranger without a laser blaster and a pint-size Batman who had been told to leave his utility belt at home.

This year’s parade on Wednesday will look much the same.

“We send out letters a few weeks before Halloween telling parents that their children cannot wear masks or bring weapons of any kind to the school,” said Kenneth Smith, the principal at Strathmore.

But it gets worse. St. Gabriel School, a Roman Catholic elementary school in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, has gone so far as to ban costumes entirely. I see this as yet another step in the loss of innocence. I remember when I was young (sonny!), we would just wander the neighborhood for hours… and our parents wouldn’t worry. We didn’t use seat belts, car seats. We never heard of predators. We had pure play time, mixing chemicals in the garage, banging rocks with hammers to see what would happen.

Have we destroyed the innocence of our young? How far will we go? Is a life without any risk, without any imagination, a life at all?