I have a mischievous streak that I attribute to my mother’s love to scare people on Halloween. My favorite tactic is to sneak up on someone, frighten them, and then delight in their reaction. Not everyone appreciates being frightened. I remember once accompanying my mother on Halloween to a relative’s home. She wore a face mask and I was dressed as a naval officer. Although you could clearly recognize me in my costume, my aunt was nevertheless cautious of the “naval officer.” As my mother advanced beyond the threshold of the home, alarming my aunt, my uncle came rushing in to apprehend the intruder. Seeing the reaction, my mother quickly identified herself avoiding being accosted by my protective uncle. We all had a good laugh but an innocent Halloween prank could have easily turned violent had my uncle felt at risk.
Halloween today is more than an opportunity to get dressed up and be silly. It is rooted in a commemoration of the dead (All Hallow’s Eve) which has become associated with Halloween. As a result, violence is often depicted as tortuous knife-wielding beings who roam our communities looking for victims. Halloween pranks are done in fun, trying to illicit a scare and with any luck a good laugh. But for those who have been victims of violence, who have been traumatized by real life situations resulting in harm, the prank is too real and no joke.
I’m not suggesting we ban the zombies among us but I am pleading for some sensitivity to those who have been traumatized by violence. In a society where violence is ubiquitous, an economic driver, and a source of entertainment, the indiscriminate depiction of horror can be a serious trigger to incite violent actions. Depravity, gratuitous violence, and horror in a world where atrocities are common place should not be amusing or entertaining.
Here at Hillsides, the zombies will march along with the superheroes in our annual candy-seeking parade around the campus. The haunted house is being prepared and promises, as always, to provide a scare followed by a reassurance of safety. It will be an event marked by fun, laughter, and too much candy. It will also be organized to be sensitive to the traumas that our vulnerable children have already experienced. Join us to make sure that Halloween is fun not traumatizing…boo!