Clown craze escalates – no laughing matter

Meagan DeGraaf-Staff Writer

What began with a few hooligans dressing up as clowns and waving at security cameras to scare the public has escalated into a nationwide epidemic larger than any pair of clown shoes.

This clown craze first received national coverage in South Carolina, where men dressed as clowns allegedly attempted to lure children into wooded areas by offering them candy and toys, or just ordering the children to follow. Since children are typically taught not to follow strangers—especially bizarre ones such as these—many children immediately alerted their parents.

After police investigated the reports, the story garnered media interest. From there, kids, teens and adults alike have jumped on the creepy clown bandwagon. Many more reports were called in soon after the initial scares, and the amount of sightings has increased exponentially since then.

Now the clowns have been spotted all over America. Some estimate that over forty states have been affected so far, and many clowns have been arrested for anything from disorderly conduct to assault or intent to harm others.

Some clowns are just kids dressing up and scaring their friends, but some people are using this hysteria and newfound anonymity to commit crimes. Reports of stabbings and robberies by persons in clown dress have led many police departments to issue statements.

Some school districts have been forced to go on lockdown or even temporarily shut down due to threats against schools and students.

One school district in Southern Alabama shut down after anonymous threats of gun violence were posted to their online profiles. The culprits were afterwards revealed to be an adult woman and two children who thought it would be just a funny prank rather than a big scare for students and teachers.

Other schools throughout the country have gone on lockdown after spotting clowns walking around outside their buildings, sometimes holding weapons or trying to enter the buildings.

There have also been confirmed and rumored sightings in Northwest Iowa. One Twitter account with the handle @IowaClowns promises to update followers on every possible sighting of clowns in the state of Iowa.

On Oct. 3, the account tweeted about a clown in Sioux Center, offering only a brief description: red hair, a red nose and a rainbow costume. Just a day later, the account posted a video from a resident of Sheldon, Iowa, which featured a man in traditional clown costume walking slowly across a cemetery in town.

While many of these sightings are just kids and adults trying to get some attention and a laugh or two, some are dangerous; select schools have even banned clown costumes for Halloween to prevent any actual violence. The Target chain, along with some smaller retailers, has decided to stop selling the traditional scary masks in an effort to slow down the craze.

Clowns are traditionally meant to be innocent entertainment for kids, but recent events have turned them into something they are not: a terror to the nation and neighborhood.

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