Lots of kids will be out trick-or-treating next week, and -- of course -- parents want to make sure they're safe. That includes keeping them away from sex offenders. But how do you know if one is living in your area?

Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington says the sheriff's department website has a way you can search to see where they are. He reminds you that sex offenders are not allowed to participate in Halloween activities. They should not have their porch lights on, wear masks or hand out candy.

"If you know of a sex offender participating in Halloween events, leave that area and contact law enforcement as soon as possible," Sheriff Whittington says. You can check out the Louisiana State Police website, too, under "Sex Offender Registry" to locate sex offenders in other parishes throughout the state.

Sheriff Whittington has these other safety tips, as well:

· A responsible adult should always accompany children when they trick-or-treat.

· Children over the age of 12 responsible enough to go without parents should stay in groups and follow an agreed-upon route.

· Ensure costumes fit well so they don’t obscure visibility and so children won’t trip or fall.

· Use costumes that are flame retardant, reflective or have bright colors.

· Carry a flashlight or glowstick.

· Trick-or-treat in familiar neighborhoods, stay in well-lit areas and use sidewalks whenever possible.

· Teach children to bring treats home before eating them so parents can examine them.

· Teach children to never enter any home without you or without your permission, and only approach homes that are well-lit.

· Teach children to say NO or GET AWAY from any person or situation making them feel scared, uncomfortable or confused.

· Call the Bossier Sheriff’s Office at (318) 965-2203 or your law enforcement agency about any suspicious activity or if candy is suspected of being tainted.

· Consider safe alternatives such as parties at home, school, church or community organized events.

"Halloween is a fun and enjoyable night for our children, and my deputies will be concentrating their patrol duties in residential areas to help keep families and children safe," says Sheriff Whittington. "I'm also asking motorists to be attentive to young trick-or-treaters and slow it down even more in residential areas with youngsters walking about on Halloween night. For residents passing out candy, be sure and leave your porch light on and remove obstacles from your sidewalks, porches or front yards that could cause children to trip and fall."

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