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A Virginia city’s decision to place an age restriction on trick-or-treating during Halloween has sparked strong reactions on social media and prompted warnings about racism.

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The city of Chesapeake passed an ordinance that allows for kids age 12 and over who “trick-or-treat” or engage in bad behavior to face fines and possible jail time. However, those who may be escorting younger children are likely exempt from the rule.

“If any person over the age of 12 years shall engage in the activity commonly known as “trick or treat” or any other activity of similar character or nature under any name whatsoever, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than $25.00 nor more than $100.00 or by confinement in jail for not more than six months or both,” the city’s ordinance said.

The city is trying to deter teens from getting into trouble, according to WPMT, a Fox-owned television station. Officials are not “actively seeking out” people in violation of the age restriction who are trick-or-treating, they said. The ordinance is similar to one in Norfolk that classifies the Halloween activity for teens age 12 and over as a Class 4 misdemeanor.

The reactions have been mixed to the city’s Halloween rule, with some people vehemently disagreeing with it. Some are upset that children would face punishment for the traditional activity. Others believe the code could spell trouble for Black teens, who they said could face fines and jail time at a higher rate. Time will tell whether the city will keep the rule, revise it or do away with it all together.


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City’s Policy To Punish Trick-Or-Treaters Sparks Debate About Racism  was originally published on