Halloween: Fact, Fiction, and Fun!
To get you and your family safely in the Halloween spirit
If you own a computer, you’ve undoubtedly read at least one of the dozens of horrifying chain emails passed from mom to mom in hopes of warning each other about unspeakable crimes against children. These notes almost always start off with some vague proof of authenticity such as, “This happened to a little girl in my hairdresser’s cousin’s first grade class.” They typically describe an unbelievable scenario where a child is whisked away to the bathroom of the Kmart, a bookstore, a department store, or Disneyland, her head shaven and her clothes changed, in order to smuggle her out of the store unnoticed. Or a small child is accidentally injected with a lethal dose of heroin while playing in a McDonald’s ball pit. With Halloween around the corner, there’s an email floating around about terrorists purchasing candy in New Jersey as part of a plot to poison it and give it to kids.
Think about it: If these stories were true, wouldn’t you have read about them in the newspaper or seen them on the news rather than receiving emails about them from people six states away? Kidnappings and terrorism are awful and they are real. But real stories are reported via the mainstream media, not only someone’s personal Yahoo account.
People get hooked on these emails for the thrill of the story, much like watching action films or reading mystery novels. Mothers are particularly good targets because we’ll read and pass along anything that’s related to protecting our children. Unfortunately, anyone who forwards these tales along is chasing ghosts because these emails are complete hoaxes. (So are those sappy emails about dying children that urge you to pass them along to 10 friends so some large corporation will donate a dollar to that child’s family for each email. Total baloney. No chain email has ever generated a dime for anyone reading it, sending it, or receiving it.)
Gary W. Adams, Chief of Police of the University Park Texas Police Department says, “Chain emails have proven to be hoaxes in the past. Use common sense and call your local law enforcement agency if you have concerns.” You can also visit a myth-debunking website such as Urbanlegends.com or Snopes.com, or call any newspaper located in the city listed in the email (if no city is listed, that’s a good indication that the story is fabricated) and ask for yourself. Once the laughter in the newsroom dies down (because journalists are generally a smart-alecky bunch), you’ll feel better about deleting those annoying notes.
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