Should trick-or-treating have an age limit? Teens actually face jail time in some communities

Many communities put age, time limits on trick-or-treating

If you grew up in San Antonio or have lived here a long time, you might find it odd when recent transplants ask about the rules and times for trick-or-treating. People here seem to instinctively know to start trick-or-treating after dinner and to stop when your neighbors turn off their porch lights. 

While we don't have specific ordinances outlining the specifics of trick-or-treating here, you may be surprised to learn that many other communities do. In fact, some cities have serious consequences for violating the trick-or-treating ordinances.

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Several North Carolina cities have age restrictions for trick-or-treating. Holly Springs passed an ordinance last year restricting the activity to children under the age of 13. In Apex, the city ordinance states that children must be 12 years or younger and states nobody can be out past 9 p.m.

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Chesapeake, Virginia, is getting attention on social media sites for its policies. The law there states that anyone over the age of 13 who trick-or-treats can be sent to jail for up to six months. However, the city's website said police will not actively seek out violations of time or jail limits for teens who are behaving, that is, until 8 p.m., when anyone who is still out soliciting candy can face a 30-day jail sentence and fines up to $100.

In Newport, Virginia,  kids can trick-or-treat through the seventh grade or until they turn 12. Otherwise, they face a Class 4 misdemeanor. 

Trick or treating in Upper Deerfield Township, New Jersey is limited to children 12 years of age and younger. And in the following New Jersey communities, trick-or-treating stops at 7 p.m.: the City of Bridgeton, Townships of Commercial, Deerfield, Hopewell, Lawrence, Maurice River, Stow Creek and Upper Deerfield and the Borough of Shiloh.

In recent years, several popular mommy bloggers have addressed the issue of teenaged trick-or-treating. The sentiment in many of those blogs is that teens should be allowed to be able to hold onto the childhood magic of the tradition for as long as possible.

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"I don't really get the outright hostility that some adults have toward older kids who just want to dress up and have some fun. 'They're too old for that!' cry the naysayers. Too old for what? Dressing outrageously, wandering around town at night, and eating junk food? Isn't that what being a teenager is all about?" Meagan Francis penned in her oft-shared blog post from 2013.

So what do you think? Vote in these polls about Halloween rules and traditions:


About the Author:

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.