BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) – Halloween is upon us, and that means sending out children to trick-or-treat for a night full of fun and candy. But can trick-or-treating actually be dangerous?

Trick-or-treating has always been a topic of worry around Halloween. In years past, news of tampered candy has made the rounds in September. Worried parents feared razor blades, marijuana, and poison throughout the 21st century. This year, the DEA has issued warnings after a new ‘Rainbow Fentanyl’ has been found in at least 21 states, including West Virginia.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito made a public service announcement earlier this month, highlighting the DEA’s findings.

“The powerful drug cartels are coming after your kids, your neighbors, your students, your family members, and your friends. Fake pills laced with fentanyl are beginning to look like candy in an effort to lure young Americans. This is also known as rainbow fentanyl, [and can be found in] a variety of bright colors, shapes and sizes.”

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)

Senator Capito urged all families to ensure that children are trick-or-treating with proper safety precautions like:

  • Only taking candy from trusted neighbors
  • Trick-or-treating in groups
  • Setting a Halloween curfew
  • Double-checking any gathered Halloween

Despite the fears surrounding candy that has been tampered with, many experts have countered the DEA, saying that there is a very low possibility of any danger in Halloween candy.

Last year, The New York Times debunked the weed-in-candy scare. Their article contends that lacing Halloween candy with any type of drug is just not the kind of thing drug dealers would do. Joel Best, a sociology professor at the University of Delaware who has studied the topic since 1983, told reporters that the threat has no evidence of ever being real.

“I can’t find any evidence of any child being killed or seriously hurt by a contaminated treat picked up in the course of trick-or-treating. [These ideas spread] primarily among people who have no idea what [drugs] cost.”

Joel Best, sociology professor at the University of Delaware

Best also wrote an article for PBS’ The Conversation that further debunked the idea. He explained that the groups of reporters coming to him asking about contaminated candy came earlier in 2022 than previous years, all worried about Fentanyl.

“Stories about contaminated treats are best understood as contemporary legends. They’re tales we’ve all heard, that we’ve been assured are true. They warn that we live in a dangerous world filled with villainous strangers who could harm us if we aren’t careful.”

Joel Best, sociology professor at the University of Delaware

One of the few standout examples of candy being the cause of a child’s death is the case of Timothy O’Bryan, who had been poisoned by cyanide-laced Pixie Stix. After the course of an official investigation, Timothy’s father, Ronald Clark O’Bryan was arrested for the murder of his own son. He has since been known as the “Candy man”.

This doesn’t mean that the suggestions given by local leaders like Shelley Moore Capito and the DEA are overreaction. It is definitely a good idea regardless of the danger to make sure everyone’s children in your local community are kept safe.