Clown epidemic scares America just in time for Halloween
Clowns here, clowns there, clowns everywhere. Over the past two months, an epidemic of clown hysteria has spread across the United States. The reports have ranged from sightings to social media threats to alleged attacks. Responses to the reports have included police investigations, public warnings, school lockdowns and arrests.
The pandemic started in the middle of August in the town of Greenville, South Carolina, where a woman reported that two clowns tried to lure her young son into a house in the woods. Several other children later claimed the same thing happened to them.
Upon investigation of the house, the police found no clown accessories. Despite this, adults in Greenville started seeing clowns as well. Throughout September, the clown craze spread around the South and the Mid-Atlantic.
Two high schools in Escambia County, Alabama were put on lockdown when clowns threatened students on the school’s grounds and posted gun emojis on Facebook. Three people were arrested for the crime. Several children in Annapolis, Maryland, also reported seeing clowns. These turned out to be false. By late September, the rest of the country had joined the clown hysteria.
The school district of New Haven, Connecticut banned clown costumes after threatening messages featuring menacing clowns were sent to four of its schools via Instagram. Children in Waukegan, Illinois claimed that several clowns threatened them with a knife and a gun. Police later discovered the story was fabricated.
The clown epidemic has even found its way to college campuses. On Oct. 3, 500 students at Pennsylvania State University took part in a clown hunt that spread to downtown State College. However, no clowns were discovered. Right here in Kenosha, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside’s campus police arrested two students wearing clowns for disturbing the peace.
According to the advocacy news website Vox, most of the clown sightings have been hoaxes; they are illusions caused by the paranoia that is springing from the clown stories seen on the news and social media. Clowns send messages of fear, and the message of fear is a contagious one because of the adrenaline rush it triggers.
The fear of clowns is rooted in human psychology. According to an article from the Australian news website, The Conversation, Canadian psychologist Rami Nader believes that humans fear clowns because their makeup masks their emotions. Since we are unable to read their emotions, we have no way of knowing if they will hurt us or not. Unfortunately, the clown hysteria has been a setback for professional clowns, such as Pennsylvania resident Jordon Jones.
“I fear for my life. At the end of the day, people look at me like I’m a clown trying to hurt them,” Jones told Time Magazine.