A wave of creepy clown sightings has swept over multiple states during the past two months, but it has become increasingly difficult to differentiate the truth from reality when it comes to these reports. Since August, police have received daily complaints about clowns lurking in the shadows, luring children into the woods, and at times even chasing people. While some of these are viable threats, some are merely hoaxes. The New York Times writes, “Other cases seem attributable to children with overactive imaginations, teenagers pulling pranks and others with their own reasons for adding to the hysteria.”
The first clown sighting came in late August in South Carolina, when police received reports of people dressed as clowns trying to lure kids into the woods with money. Since then, sightings have been claimed in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, and more. For a full list of the states that have reported clown sightings, click here.
According to the New York Times, 12 people are facing charges for making false reports. In mid-September, Georgia police arrested Brandon Moody, 26, and Rebecca Moody, 27, for obstruction and unlawful conduct after falsely reporting that they saw clowns trying to lure children into a van. A North Carolina man was also arrested after admitting that he lied to the police when he reported someone dressed as a clown had knocked on his window.
None of the hysteria has led to serious injuries or death. According to Time, this is because “most of the clown sightings involved either young pranksters dressed as clowns or callers inventing clown stories.”
Is this bizarre clown fad something be worried about? Is our safety at risk? In many states, law enforcement officials (and highway patrol units) have revved up security over the past few weeks. Scott Bonn, a criminologist and sociology professor at Drew University, told Time, “It’s an adrenaline rush. It’s a party. It’s a game. My gut reaction is that this is going to eventually burn out. Could someone get hurt along the way? Yes, if it got out of hand, especially if alcohol is involved. But I don’t necessarily think it’s going to lead to a clown killer.”
On Wednesday, police in western Oregon released tips to advise people how to remain safe in light of recent events, according to KEZI.com. The tips are listed below:
* Be aware of your surroundings at all times and report suspicious activity to local law enforcement.
* Teach your child to be assertive. Make sure they know that it’s OK to say no to an adult and to run away from adults in dangerous situations.
* Don’t talk to, take anything from or go anywhere with strangers and do not get into someone’s car even if they display a weapon. It is better to be loud and fight back in the street where help is closer at hand and other people may hear your calls for help.
* Point out safe places. Show your children safe places to play, safe roads and paths to take and safe places to go if there’s trouble.
* Walk confidently and don’t avoid eye contact.
*Don’t let strangers into your ‘space.’ Keep plenty of distance between yourself and people you don’t wish to approach you. Don’t stop to talk with strangers asking for directions or other types of help as this can be a ploy to get close for an attack.
* If you feel you are in danger or being followed, call 9-1-1.
* Walk in lighted areas as much as possible and don’t walk too close to bushes, alleyways or other places where attackers can conceal themselves.
* Know where your children are at all times. Make it a rule that your children must ask permission or check in with you before going anywhere. Give your children your work and cell phone numbers so they can reach you at all times.
* Use the buddy system when walking after dark. You should know the person you are walking with well enough to trust them. There’s safety in numbers.
* Always go to a trusted adult when help is needed, such as a teacher, police officer, school resource officer, school bus driver, parent, older sibling or neighbor.