Why ‘killer clowns’ are no laughing matter

We all love a good scare. It’s the reason why we queue up for rollercoasters and spend good money to scream at horror movies. So when reports started emerging of ‘killer clowns’ pranking towns in America and Canada, it came as no real surprise when we started seeing copycat cases in Britain too.

But whilst the idea of dressing up like a demonic jester to scare the living daylights out of innocent passers-by might seem pretty funny, it actually can have very serious consequences for everyone involved.

For starters, it can be a very traumatic experience for the victims. What can seem like a bit of fun for the prankster can leave the people on the receiving end extremely shaken up. There’s also a chance that these experiences can cause genuine psychological harm, especially if the targets are young or vulnerable. In fact Childline have reported a worrying spike in calls from children who are terrified by the craze with many of them needing counselling to deal with the trauma.

Beyond the scare factor, there is also the risk of physical harm for both the victims and the clowns themselves. Whilst most of the pranks are intended to be harmless, we’re now starting to see people getting hurt, including a case in Sweden where a teen was left with minor knife injuries during an attack. And it’s not just the victims that are in danger. Increasingly people are creating ‘clown hunter’ vigilante groups on social media and there are even reports of someone prowling the streets of Cumbria dressed as Batman, looking to deal out justice to real-life Jokers.

Which leads to our final point: These pranks can get you arrested. With a rise in incidents being reported, police forces up and down the UK are on now high alert for clown attacks. Whilst most of the incidents are probably intended as just a bit of fun, the fact that people are getting hurt means that the police cannot and will not ignore them. By participating in the craze, there’s a good chance that you’re breaking the law. Getting caught could land you in serious trouble including prosecution and a criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life.

So if you’re thinking about donning a scary mask and causing some mayhem, remember that things can go very wrong very quickly. Not everyone sees the funny side of the ‘killer clown’ phenomenon and, at the end of the day, the joke might well be on you.

Do you need to report a ‘killer clown’ or another threat to your safety? Call your local police on 101 or the ring the Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555 111. If you are in immediate danger and need urgent help, dial 999.

Want to talk to someone in confidence about something in your life that is making you worried, scared or upset? Call Childline on 0800 1111.