Time to stop the clowning around

By Angelina Miller
October 30, 2016

Photo by Steven Depolo/ Creative Commons

One thing that is for sure this October is that there will be no clowning around on Halloween, due to the “clown craze” that has taken over the east and west coasts.

While coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, typically hits its height around this spooky time of year, 2016 has specifically given these circus characters an immense amount of attention in the media. This has affected adults, teens and most of all, young, innocent children that have been unintentionally exposed to different photos and videos of this controversy on Instagram.

At the end of August, a group of children in South Carolina spread the word about a group of clowns trying to lure them into the woods with money in the dark of night. Residents from an apartment complex in Greenville County backed the children up, saying that they heard about people in clown makeup terrorizing both children and adults.

From Alabama to Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, reports of these clown cases continued to flood in to police all throughout September. It got to a point where schools in Reading, Ohio closed temporarily after a woman told the school district that she was attacked by a man dressed as a clown.

The craze then escalated to the point where juveniles were being arrested for making threats to high schools and their students via Facebook accounts in the names of different clowns; these names included “Flomo Klown,” “Shoota Clown,” and “Kaleb Klown.”

At the end of September, the line on this situation was really drawn when a 16-year-old boy was stabbed in Reading, Pennsylvania after a confrontation with a prowler who was supposedly wearing a clown mask.

Some think that this is all one big hoax and that police and schools are overreacting. However, others are still taking it all very seriously.

On Oct. 20, Kemper County, Mississippi enacted a clown ban to their 10,000 residents in which anyone that is caught wearing a clown costume, mask or makeup in public will be fined $150.

People that work as clowns for an actual profession are struggling as well with bookings for parties and events dropping sharply over the past month or so. 

There is no question that news has taken a toll on schools, families and children in our surrounding area as well. 

In the beginning of October, the school safety coordinator of the Montgomery County Department of Safety sent out an e-mail notice to schools in the Montgomery County area regarding the suspicious activity associated with clowns. The Department clarified that there had not been any actual sightings of these clowns reported in the area and that schools were to continue normal operations with a special focus on Situational Awareness because of that.

Christina, a mother of two children that attend an elementary school in Montgomery County, received a mass e-mail from her children’s school in regards to that notice. The e-mail also touched base on how the social media activity of the clown craze had mostly target high school students, not students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Therefor, the school stated that the whole situation had most likely not reached the attention the children’s parents and guardians.

That proved to be true for Christina’s child who is in fifth grade.

“I heard about the clowns on the news and on Instagram, but people in my class really haven’t been saying much about it,” he said. “We don’t really care though because we think it’s all made up.”

However, Christina’s older daughter in seventh grade had a different point of view.

“After seeing some things about the clowns on the news and Instagram, I had a nightmare that I saw two clowns in the woods and that my friend was setting up a trap door in her backyard to catch them,” she said.

“Some people at my school have been talking about dressing up as a field hockey player or Native American so that if a clown comes, they could just bash them in the head with a stick or bow and arrow,” she added.

A parent with two children at Tedyriffin Easttown Middle School in Chester County, Pennsylvania said their school is also taking action on this matter by forbidding children from dressing in clown costumes at school on Halloween. An e-mail notice was sent out to all parents and guardians on this.

“Everything with the clowns scares me a little bit, but I think people are overreacting,” Jack said, the mother’s child in sixth grade.

“It’s all getting too much attention,” Charlie said, her oldest child in eighth grade. “It’s just making me think about it more.”

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Angelina Miller

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