The creepy clown craze has created a fear hysteria that is sweeping the world – and now Australia is being caught up in this scary fad with numerous sightings being reported around the nation and even a threat the Aussie schools will be targeted by the face-painted freaks.
Police departments have issued warnings to the clowns, made arrests and called for public calm. Even the king of horror, US author Stephen King (some say the remake of his movie It has fuelled the craze), has has called for calm.
But the local incidents continue to mount up – there is now even a Facebook Page called Clown Sightings Australia which already has 20,000 followers. Other local ones have also popped up.
And now there has been an arrest. A 19-year-old WA man, dressed as a “killer clown”, has been arrested and charged after allegedly terrorising a group of teenage girls at a shopping centre before chasing them for almost a kilometre through a town north-east of Perth.
Western Australia Police said the 19-year-old man was dressed as a “killer clown” and first petrified the girls at a shopping centre on Fitzgerald Street in Northam around 9.30pm on Saturday.
A 19-year-old has since been summonsed to appear in court, charged with disorderly behaviour and possession of a disguise.
The Courier Mail spoke to a Brisbane woman who said she almost drove over a clown after it approached her car holding a knife.
The woman in Redland Bay said she was left horrified after a clown ran at her car with a knife.
“I stopped to get a better look trying to figure out what it was and next thing I know it pulls up a knife and starts running at my car. I almost ran the f** thing over. I screamed so loud I’m absolutely terrified...”
Last Friday Victoria Police issued a statement about this craze.
“Victoria Police are aware of people who are parading in the public wearing clown masks,” they said. “The clown purge appears to be a copycat of incidents being seen in the USA recently.
“'Any intimidating and threatening as well as anti-social behaviours will not be tolerated and will be investigated by Police.”
Many of the ‘clowns’ have been posting to Facebook spotting pages claiming they will be at certain area at any given time. This is creating both fear and fascination, and adding to the frenzy.
And it all began in the US - surprised
The first reports date back to August after unsubstantiated reports surfaced that clowns were spotted trying to lure children into the woods.
The craze has also been linked to the Stephen King movie remake of It, which features the sick and twisted sewer-dwelling clown Pennywise. Some cynics believe this creepy clown thing is just a sick PR stunt.
And while early on, when it was confined just to the US, people predicted the craze would just die out, nobody saw how it would grip the globe. So how to manage this on the home front, particularly if you have terrified kids?
A fear of clowns, or coulrophobia as it’s called in clinical circles, is not unusual among adults and especially kids. Many Australian schools ban clown costumes at their dress-up days in response to this very real fear.
And it’s the kids who may need some extra special handling while this craze runs its course.
Experts are calling on parents to be measured and moderate in how they talk to their kids about it – and maybe only raise it if they are aware of this current spate of incidents.
If your kids are on Facebook and freaking out, talk to them rationally about their fears and advise them to stay off social media for now.
And reassuring them that you will help to keep them safe can go a long way, experts add.
And if you see any freaky characters dressed as scary clowns, call the police.