Crime and Terrorism

The Case of the Poisoned Candy You are probably familiar with fears of unsafe Halloween candy. There are lots of stories of terrible people tampering with candy—putting poison or razor blades into chocolate bars and other treats. In fact, the fear is so widespread that most parents won’t let their kids accept homemade treats from strangers. Some parents go even farther, insisting on checking all candy bars by hand before their children are allowed to eat them. Given how many people have this fear, there must be something to it, right? Not necessarily. Poisoned Halloween candy is what’s known as an urban myth : a story that is told repeatedly as if it’s true but without concrete evidence to support it. The small number of illnesses and deaths supposedly caused by Halloween candy have all turned out to be caused by other things. For example, a four-year-old in Toronto died on Halloween in 2001, but her

single moment. These little tastes of independence can be exciting, but kids can also start to sense that they are vulnerable. As kids get older they gradually become more aware of the news. Media stories about crime can have a huge impact on kids’ sense of safety. Kids have active imaginations, and when they hear stories about crime, it’s easy for them to picture the same thing (or worse) happening to them. It’s easy for kids to get overly focused on dramatic events like kidnapping or terrorist attacks, even though those events are very unlikely. If that sounds like something you do, don’t be too hard on yourself. As it turns out, most adults

Research Project Research an urban myth, such as poisoned Halloween candy, “killer clowns,” or some other story that interests you. Use the site snopes.com to find out about the history of the myth and how it spread.

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