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Schools Take the Scary Out of Halloween Costumes

2988514577_0148c427b4Last night we took our kids to a trick-or-treat event at a nearby historical village.  Riding with other similarly dressed little girls (read: princesses) on an ancient amusement ride under a red light while watching witches, monsters, and football players running by us in the dark, I was struck by what a magical holiday Halloween is for kids.

Magical, yes, but often scary, too.  There were a lot of princesses and superheros there last night, but there were also costumes that made my kids cringe and hide behind my legs, too.

In the last few years, schools have been making a real effort to include Halloween fun in the curriculum, while at the same time asking parents to limit the blood and gore.

Take this memo educating parents on proper costumes from Riverside Drive, a public school in the San Fernando Valley, and as reported by the New York Times:

  • They should not depict gangs or horror characters, or be scary.
  • Masks are allowed only during the parade.
  • Costumes may not demean any race, religion, nationality, handicapped condition or gender.
  • No fake fingernails.
  • No weapons, even fake ones.
  • Shoes must be worn.

School administrators say that the idea is to make Halloween positive and fun while upholding principles they try to teach their kids all year, but not necessarily to toe the politically correct line.  But critics wonder if we’re sanitizing yet another childhood experience in an effort to (over)protect our kids.

My daughters’ school only celebrates one true Halloween party — in preschool, where no “scary” costumes are allowed.  (Older grades will sometimes dress as their favorite character, etc.) And really, that’s okay.  It gives us the freedom to choose costumes and enjoy the holiday as a family, without worrying about whether or not a costume will be allowed at school.

But I also back this idea of positive — but not necessarily un-scary — costumes in school.  Not because I think our kids need to be protected, but because I think it challenges kids to be more creative. Anyone can grab a scary mask and some fake blood.

What do you think about the new school rules about costumes?  And what does your school do to celebrate Halloween?

Photo: lepiaf.geo, Flickr

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