‘Creepy clowns’ trend terrifying children in the UK

Nearly 500 Childline counselling sessions in just 3 weeks

Boy on phoneAhead of Halloween, Childline is seeing a peak in contacts about the terrifying craze of 'creepy clowns'.

In just 3 weeks our service for young people has been contacted 462 times by children scared by the trend in which people dress up as terrifying clowns in order to scare passers-by.

Nearly 1 in 3 of counselling sessions on the subject of clowns were with children under the age of 11 - reaching 139 in total - and 3 quarters of those who got in touch over clown fears were girls.


Some clowns carrying weapons

The sudden deluge of contacts to Childline reflects an increase of reported incidents across the UK. Cases reported to police have involved clowns chasing children with weapons such as knives or baseball bats and in some instances clowns have been specifically targeting schools.

Police reports have included a 10-year-old-boy in Plymouth being threatened by a clown who jumped out of a bush carrying a hammer, and in a separate incident in Workington, Cumbria, a clown brandishing an axe chased an 11-year-old girl.

Children have also been targeted online, and in one instance a 13-year-old girl was messaged on Instagram from someone posing as a clown who threatened to cut her throat and rape her.

Advice for children

Phone

  • Talk to a parent or a teacher or trusted adult
  • Contact the police if they are threatened by a creepy clown in the street
  • Call Childline if they want to discuss their worries or get advice and support
  • Block and report abusive messages from people posing as clowns on social media

Childline

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Jon Cameron, NSPCC Head of helplines, said:
"People getting dressed up as 'creepy clowns' and frightening children should take a long hard look at themselves. Clowns are meant to make children laugh but these people are abusing this idea and turning it into something twisted and warped. Increasing reports that these 'clowns' are not simply seeking to frighten children but using them to intimidate, commit crimes, abuse or bully are deeply worrying and this trend needs to be stamped out.

"Young people should stay well away from them. And if they do happen to see a 'creepy clown' out on the streets or lurking near their school they should immediately tell their parents or the nearest responsible adult and report it to the police where necessary. If a child is worried they should contact Childline."

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