As scary clown sighting reports continue to spread across the nation, public fear mounts. It began in August when children in South Carolina reported a clown had attempted to lure them into the woods.
Since that time, there have been similar, often times unverified, reports of clown sightings in other states.
Police have made it clear that when it comes to scary clowns, they are not joking around. Arrests have been made as teens have been found using the current clown hysteria in order to pull pranks on unsuspecting victims.
The Lincoln Journal Star reports that in Grand Island, Nebraska, four teens were arrested in relation to three different incidents in which people were threatened or chased by clowns.
The first two incidents occurred on concurrent days, in approximately the same place. In the second incident, the mask-wearing clowns were wielding knives. The third clown sighting that was reported noted that a BB gun was involved.
Police Capt. Jim Duering explained the seriousness of the incidents:
"The juveniles were copycatting what they were seeing from social media posts and media stories about clowns. They went too far and actually caused some fear in some of the people they were terrorizing, and they were brandishing weapons...luckily no one was hurt.
This was not your normal Halloween prank given the current atmosphere surrounding clowns and the fact they brandished weapons."
Nationally, schools are having to deal with threats of violence. Because of the hysteria, many schools, like New Haven Public Schools in Connecticut, have banned clown costumes and “any symbols of terror” for Halloween, reports the Associated Press.
Schools in Atlanta have also faced “threats” of clown attacks on social media and one county's school district had to notify all parents because of swirling rumors of attacks and schools being on lockdown.
And many other schools all over the country are dealing with clown hoaxes.
Police in Kentucky have warned that “...while dressing up is not, in and of itself against the law, doing so in public and thereby creating an unnecessary sense of alarm is illegal.”
The best defense to the situation is for parents to make sure, particularly as they head into Halloween, that their children clearly understand that while pulling pranks can be fun, pranks that threaten safety or scare people are neither funny nor appropriate.