86609 KS-HALLOWEEN

Trick-or-treaters cruise for candy in the Eagle Ridge neighborhood near 66th and Cornhusker on a mild Halloween night in 2011.

As Halloween rapidly approaches, many children are stuck in the age-old debate about what they should be for that one magical night.

And as those same children creep closer to their teenage years, some parents are forced to decide which side of a different debate they are on: How old is “too old” to go trick-or-treating?

Recently, I read a news story about the city of Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada, that left me a little baffled. As of Oct. 3, it's now illegal for children ages 16 and older to trick-or-treat there, according to today.com. There's also now an 8 p.m. curfew on Halloween night. Any teen caught breaking either part of the law could face a $200 fine, according to the report.

Personally, I can’t say I fully understand the need for such a law. As the parent to two teenagers — one of whom would be considered too old while the other is just on the brink of the age limit — I shudder to think about what they might be out doing instead of trick-or-treating.

Let’s face it, being a teenager is tough. You’re too old to participate in many of the activities reserved for younger children, yet you're too young to be treated like an adult. When the childhood option is taken away, adult activities become more appealing.

That’s what scares me.

I do understand there will always be some teenagers who are more interested in causing trouble than actually trick-or-treating, but is it fair to punish the majority for the behavior of a few? I don’t think so. In my opinion, if an older teen feels inclined to dress up and has spent either time or money on a costume, I’d say he or she has more than earned the right to ask for some candy one day out of the year.

Besides, trick-or-treating offers a way for kids to still have safe Halloween fun while hanging out with friends. That's better than the alternative — going to a Halloween party where there might be adult activities such as drinking.

So as my own children get ready to celebrate Halloween this year, I remain grateful our community has yet to enforce an age limit law on Halloween. In my opinion, if my children want to continue dressing up, I see no harm in it as long as they are respectful to the younger children in the neighborhood.

After all, there are so many worse things they could choose to be doing than dress up in costumes and ask the neighbors for candy.

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Amanda Smith, a working mom of two children, writes weekly for momaha.com. Read more from Amanda »

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