Last night, my friend posted on Facebook that her daughter, a freshman in college, had received a text warning from the school that there was a creepy clown nearby.  Now that creepy-clown masks are so readily available in the Halloween section of every supermarket, drug store, and big-box store, I expect this will continue to escalate.  It’s hard to believe this creepy-clown phenomenon is actually “a thing”…it sound more like a bad movie plot.

But it’s real – it’s called “performance crime,” and it’s affecting school districts across the US.  In addition to creepy clowns roaming the streets, jumping in front of moving cars, approaching dog-walkers, joggers, moms unloading their groceries from the minivan, and creepy-clowns allegedly attempting to lure kids into the woods, these clown threats are spreading like wildfire across social media, and schools are being targeted.  Some districts have closed schools as a precaution.

I have lots of questions…

  1. Why are schools being targeted?  Because kids are behind these “pranks” – AKA performance crimes?  Because targeting schools will get a reaction out of parents, teachers, and law enforcement?  Or could these be serious threats against kids and teachers?
  2. Why clowns?  Why not some other scary masks?  I’m guessing it’s related to social media and the ease of spreading clown-related hashtags.  I doubt these people have intentionally tapped into the clown-anxiety from our childhood.
  3. What is the best plan of action for schools?  In my opinion, the exterior doors should be locked anyway, and going into full lockdown seems excessive.  But what about recess?
  4. How can colleges and universities prevent the creepy-clown hysteria from getting out of hand?  What precautions should students and staff take?

Here’s a report from CBS News:

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