Clowns have been scaring the bejesus out of kids, and it has gotten a lot of parents concerned (no duh, because clowns).
One of the moms of my daughter’s classmates reached out to other parents on Facebook about her clown dilemma. She said that someone in class told her son there are scary clowns around town looking to stab people, and now he can’t go to bed at night. She then asked if we told our child about the scary clown epidemic.
Honestly, I had no idea this was even a thing until I read her status update. Then, all of a sudden I started seeing it all unfold in the news. (Hello, social media!) They’ve dubbed it the Great Clown Panic of 2016. Some schools have even sent letters home warning parents about the clown problem and how it may affect students.
The local Fox affiliate in San Antonio recently reported that there are a growing number of social-media accounts showing clowns threatening schools and students. One school in particular, Connally Middle School, was targeted.
Last Sunday, an Instagram account posted a message that contained the school's address and phone number, saying, "Going here tomorrow."
"History has taught us we have to take everything seriously," said Eddie Luna who has a middle school-aged daughter.
According to Barry Perez, the spokesperson for Northside School District, administrators are planning to beef up security to ensure the well-being of the students.
"We wanted to make the precautionary measures," said Perez. "Notifying Northside police and making sure some additional patrol was on campus and in the area."
If you’re wondering how this clown epidemic got started, you’re not alone.
According to published reports, it began in South Carolina last August. BuzzFeed reported that there were clown sightings in the woods near Greenville. One mom told police that her son saw them whispering and making weird sounds.
These spooky clowns have since sparked mayhem across the country. Copycats have decided to piggyback on the clown epidemic, causing fear in parents and children alike.
There have been reports of more than 100 clown sightings and threats across the U.S. (which, honestly, isn't a lot. This real-time interactive map might give you some perspective). The incidents have led to arrests because wearing a clown costume just to scare people is illegal. In one incident, schools in Reading, Ohio, were closed after a woman was attacked by someone dressed up as a clown and claimed that the clown also threatened some of the kids at her school.
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Fortunately, my daughter hasn’t mentioned anything about scary clowns at her school. Many of the other parents also said that they haven’t heard anything either, except for the horror that's being spread on social media and the news.
But it's still important for parents to talk to kids about the clown craze, especially since the threats are causing panic in communities and interrupting everyday school and home life. Also for many kids, creepy clowns aren't a joke and can increase their anxiety.
Diane Popp, a child and family therapist, suggests to The Oregonian that parents tell kids that clowns aren't real and usually aren't dangerous. But if kids ever feel unsafe, they should ask for help. Parents should also fact-check reports of clown sightings since the clown panic has spread a lot of questionable information.
Lastly, let's all avoid dressing like clowns this Halloween—for the clown's good. A teen was fatally stabbed late last month in some neighborhood controversy, even though his clown-like mask was pushed up onto his head.
But if you do decide to dress up, let's just hope you don't show up opening doors or popping out of bushes when my husband and I take our kids trick-or-treating. Because a mama bear can be much, much scarier.