Though the very term “Creepy Clowns” may make you want to chuckle and seems harmless enough, however, in recent months it has become an international threat.
The trend of mysterious people dressed as clowns (usually more horror clowns than the lovable Ronald McDonald type) began in the summer months along the east coast and has since spread throughout the nation (now even being reported in parts of Germany).
The motive of this activity remains unclear, but many people seem to be copycatting the behavior.
While most clown activity has been proven harmless, in some cases these clowns are attempting to abduct children, incite violence and rob businesses.
“The spreading of unusual behaviors is more common at times when there is a lot of tension, conflict and anxiety,” said Craig D. Parks, social psychologist and assistant vice provost at WSU. Another could be what Parks called “social contagion”. Although traditionally social contagion is more likely to spread among people who have frequent physical contact with others, the internet has altered that aspect of the phenomenon. “Social contagion is when somebody does something unusual and it affects other people,” said Parks. “People see it and say, ‘Wow! I’m going to do that too.’”
The trend has now found its way to parts of Arizona and California, the latest US states (to date) to experience the creepy phenomena.
On October 23rd, three people dressed as creepy clowns were spotted by security guards outside a shopping mall in San Francisco. One of the three culprits was brandishing a gun. The men, who were huddled in one of the mall’s emergency stairwells prepping their costumes, fled the scene when they realized security was observing them. After a security guard contacted the police, the police acknowledged they suspected the men were planning a robbery attempt that was fortunately averted by mall security.
While the craze has been rife with false alarms, hoaxes and pranksters there have been a few legitimate incidents. If you encounter a creepy clown, do not attempt to take action against the clown yourself! Please take note, this is especially sensitive territory during the Halloween season and also some innocent bystanders dress in clown costumes as part of their entertainment careers. One major identifier is that creepy clowns are just that…creepy! Their costumes are intentionally dirty and damaged and their appearance likens horror instead of humor. However, some sightings have been more basic. When you see a clown in a busy area, try to locate a security guard or police officer nearby. If you are in a more secluded area, call 9-1-1 immediately and move quickly in the opposite direction of the clown. Be especially careful to teach children that they are not to engage with clowns or any strangers for their safety.