Teenagers Threatened With Jail if They Trick or Treat

Trick-or-treating is not a crime … or at least it shouldn’t be. Some towns around the country have decided to impose strict age limits on the Halloween ritual with actual laws and ordinances.

It’s a misdemeanor to trick-or-treat after turning 12 in both Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia. A bunch of towns in North Carolina cut kids off by 12 or 13. In Upper Deerfield Township, New Jersey, trick-or-treaters can’t exceed 12 and there’s a strict curfew ending the festivities by 7 p.m. — it’s barely dark by then!

The most egregious example, however, is probably Chesapeake, Virginia where kids 13 and over who trick-or-treat are at risk of facing a $100 fine or up to six months in jail. Why the heck would a town even bother to criminalize a fun and harmless activity for people just entering their teenage years?

Sign the petition: Tell the community of Chesapeake to ditch this ridiculous law.

The Chesapeake police department has indicated that it instituted the rule in order to discourage teenagers from causing mischief like stealing and smashing pumpkins. The thing is that has nothing to do with trick-or-treating. There are already laws dealing with theft and vandalism that police can choose to enforce – depriving 13 and 14 year-olds of the opportunity to celebrate Halloween in a more civil manner of dressing up and collecting candy does nothing to cut down on the trouble.

Hopefully Chesapeake and the other communities like it are at least hosting alternative programming for teenagers to participate in, or they’re just asking for the excluded young folks to find their own forms of diversion.

On a personal level, I still loved Halloween and trick-or-treating as a preteen. I can remember visiting a decent amount of houses where the adults handing out candy would judgmentally ask, “How old are you?” in an effort to try to shame me for having fairly wholesome fun.

I might not have been young enough to be considered “adorable” in my costume, but what’s the real problem so long as the kids are being polite? It remains the adults’ prerogative to not give out candy for whatever reason, it’s not something that needs to be codified by law.

Besides, kids like me inevitably gave up trick-or-treating by high school, not because of any adult disapproval, but because it was no longer “cool” amongst our peers. Passing a law is only going to have the opposite effect on teenagers who want to be rebellious.

Let’s not turn Halloween into an excuse to harass kids who are tall for their age or developmentally disabled or maybe just innocent enough to see the joy in trick-or-treating. It’s not like these kids are carrying ID around anyway.

Take Action!

Although officials in Chesapeake are preemptively claiming that they don’t intend to enforce the law so long as teenagers are creating trouble, that doesn’t help the well intentioned, rule-following kids who are just trying to have fun. Sign this Care2 petition to encourage Chesapeake to not be such scrooges about a tradition that plenty of 13 and 14 year olds still enjoy.

Creating a Care2 petition is easy. If you have an issue you care deeply about, why not start your own petition? Here are some guidelines to help you get started and soon the Care2 community will be signing up to support you.


Photo Credit: rawpixel


Latoya Brookins
Latoya Brookins4 months ago

I signed the petition.

Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson5 months ago

Thank you.

Amanda M
Amanda M6 months ago

Petition signed! Teenagers deserve to be able to go out with their friends trick-or-treating, and it's one activity that has nothing to do with sports (which not everybody is good at) or religion (not everybody's Christian, which can be a problem in small towns where all or most groups/activities are church-related). Besides, how many parents let the teenage kids take their younger siblings out trick-or-treating? If the kids have good "home training," then they can be trusted to behave themselves. Let's not forget that most vandalism and other pranking is done after hours anyway, which is NOT going to stop just because it's past trick-or-treat time! Something tells me that the idiots who wrote/passed this law were never kids themselves!

Sabrina D
Sabrina Degasperi6 months ago

Petition signed.

Lesa D
Past Member 6 months ago

sounds like a trick to me...

Lesa D
Past Member 6 months ago

#11503 petition signed...

Lesa D
Past Member 6 months ago

thank you Kevin...

Georgina Elizab M
Georgina Elizab M6 months ago


Leo C
Leo C6 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

tammy C
tammy C6 months ago

Thats horrible...