Bibb County authorities are rounding up some registered sex offenders ahead of Halloween, but their approach might not be justified by the facts.
The Telegraph reports that while kids are out trick-or-treating Thursday evening, 130 offenders with a history of victimizing children will have to report to the Macon Probation Office, 5-10 p.m.
Other offenders will be ordered to stay inside, and barred from decorating their homes.
Communities across the country have been getting more aggressive with such policies in recent years, much to the chagrin of Mark Chaffin, professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City.
A psychologist specializing in child abuse research, Chaffin studied years of crime data to see if children are at a greater risk of sexual abuse on Halloween, and found no significant correlation in a study published in 2009.
"Halloween is just another Fall day, it’s really not any different in the rates of child sexual abuse than any other day in that vicinity," Chaffin said.
That conclusion raises the question, Chaffin said, "are we devoting a considerable amount of law enforcement resources to deal with a problem that does not exist, and would those law enforcement resources be more effectively devoted to other things?"
Chaffin suggests that law enforcement should redirect resources away from sex offenders and toward things like traffic enforcement during trick-or-treating. Children are four times more likely to be killed or injured by a car while walking on Halloween than any other day of the year, he said.