When Risk Gets Spooky – Risk Assessing Halloween Candy

There’s something about the magic of Halloween that delights children. I can still remember the thrill of running door to door, my sneakers crunching through fallen leaves as my pillowcase grew heavy with candy loot.

Did I think about risk then? The answer is certainly yes, but not in the way I do today. I didn’t rate risks or think about the things I did to control risk. But I did understand what “risks” meant to me and my precious candy treasure.

In this trip down memory lane, I’ll attempt to formalize the risk and controls children across America face when it comes to their Halloween candy, arriving at residual risk.

As with any risk assessment, it begins with the basic risks. In this case, it’s all about the candy collected. Getting in touch with our inner eight-year-old, we need to think about how the risks to our candy will affect us, how likely is it that we’ll feel the effects of those risks, and what we can do about the “left-over risk” (residual) we face.

Risks identified for this assessment include:

  • Candy thieves
    • Parents and/or brothers and sisters pose the biggest threat. They are bigger than us and they make and/or enforce the rules.
  • Crummy candy
    • We have our favorite candy. For some it’s hard candies for others it’s chocolate or something very specific like a favorite candy bar(s). In this case, the enemy of Halloween is Mary Jane taffy candies and apples. Long live Snickers!
  • Quantity
    • The amount of candy we collect.
  • Binge eating candy
    • Stomachaches
    • Toothaches/Damage to teeth

Severity/Impact: What does the risk mean to us?

Children view risk and its effects differently than adults. For each risk, we’ll think about how the impact of each risk would make a child feel and use that to weigh risk.

 Probability/Likelihood: How real is the risk? What’s the chance it will happen?

We have an idea of the impact of the risk, but how likely is it that the risk will even happen? A child would think about what happened during past Halloweens and their friends’ experiences.

Controls/Control Effectiveness: What to do about the risks? Does what we do even work?

Knowing the risks, their impact and their likelihood, the child needs to think about what, if anything, he can do to decrease risk.

Residual Risk: What amount of risk is left?

After all the analysis, the child should know exactly what level of risk he faces. Then he needs to decide if it’s an acceptable amount of risk or if he should consider additional controls. A decision needs to be made. Is the reward even worth the risk?

Silly question, of course. The reward of all that sweet, sweet candy is definitely worth suiting up for another Halloween trick-or-treat adventure when you’re a kid!

Risk Severity/Impact Likelihood/Probability Controls/Control Effectiveness Residual Risk
Older Siblings stealing candy Catastrophic ->Long term mental anguish

> Negative relationship impact with brother/sister

> Future excitement of Halloween lowered

> Hard work will be for nothing

Certain

My brother or sister has taken candy in the past! At least sneaked a piece or two of their favorite without asking!

MINIMAL –

Knowledge as a weapon – I know of something my brother/sister has done that the parents don’t know about yet. I plan to use this to keep my candy safe.

 

EFFECTIVENESS – LOW

My threats haven’t worked in the past because I wasn’t ready to spill the beans.

HIGH

This is something that is bound to happen. I don’t make the rules and my brother/sister is bigger than me.

Parents stealing candy Catastrophic

> Long term mental anguish

> Future excitement of Halloween lowered

> Hard work will be for nothing

Certain

 

My mom and/or dad has taken my candy in the past! At least sneaked a piece or two of their favorite without asking!

NONE

 

I’m the kid, what can I possibly do to stop my parents from doing what they want.

HIGH

 

It happens every year, and it doesn’t look like this year is an exception.

Stomach Ache Insignificant

> What’s a little stomachache?

Remote

I don’t remember my stomach EVER hurting from eating too much candy. Mom and Dad must be making it up just so they can have my candy (SEE PARENTS TAKING CANDY)

 

NONE

 

Nothing to worry about.

LOW

 

There is no way my Halloween candy is going to hurt my stomach.

Hurting your teeth Insignificant

> What’s a little toothache?

Remote

I don’t remember EVER hurting my teeth because of eating candy. Mom and Dad must be making it up just so they can have my candy (SEE PARENTS TAKING CANDY)

NONE

 

Nothing to worry about.

LOW

 

There is no way my Halloween candy is going to hurt my teeth.

Low Quality of candy Catastrophic

> My Halloween would be horrible.

Possible

 

I remember Halloweens where the candy wasn’t the greatest. Who thinks giving out apples is a “treat” anyway.

 

Moderate –

 

Going to areas that my friends say give out the “good candy.”

MODERATE

 

I can only do so much to get the candy I want.

Low Volume of candy Catastrophic

> My Halloween would be horrible.

Possible

I remember Halloweens where I didn’t get hardly any candy!

Extensive –

I plan on going trick -or-treating until my legs won’t work or all the lights go out and I still might keep going if both happens!

LOW/MODERATE

 

Not if I can help it!