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One evening, just about a month ago, I overheard a conversation between my two teenagers about clowns, scary clowns, all over the country doing awful things.

Honestly, my reaction with my teens was, “Oh come on really? Clowns, like the one’s at the circus or rodeo that make us laugh?”

The reply was more than I expected.

Yes, this is for real! It is happening right here in our community. I had lots of questions. Where are you getting your information? Why am I not hearing about this on the media or from your school and on and on. These conversations continued off and on. One evening, we were driving home at dusk from the school my teens attend. My son pointed out a figure near the school that appeared to be sitting in a chair. Just sitting. Odd, why would someone be sitting by the school and in the dark? I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Oh I am sure it is nothing.” From the passenger seat, a teen went off and said, “Nothing, really nothing? Did you not hear me when I told you about the clowns all over this country and the awful things they are doing?”

Thinking carefully, I thought, OK so it is almost dark, no one else is at this school but one vehicle and something resembling a large man sitting in a chair. It would be acceptable to call the non-emergency phone number and just request a police drive by, especially since we live very near the school.

I asked my son to make the call as I was driving. He did a great job reporting just the facts and no additions that it may be a clown.

Later in the week, I heard yet another tale of the clowns. Apparently, after an athletic event that was an away game, there were parents concerned as they too saw “something” in the parking lot and the adults made sure that every child got safely into their vehicle before driving away. Lesson for this, be aware of one’s surroundings, bad things happen in even the safest of places.

I think the most shocking part of this  for me is that one of my teens said that someone captured a picture of a clown and it has been shared on social media. Once again, we had another conversation about the use of social media and that the better avenue would have been to have reported the incident and supplied the police with the picture and not on Instagram to further the fear factor.

Last night, this sunk in and made me so sad as I realized just how anxious this clown stuff is causing my teens to be! My daughter said that she read an article online that said Halloween is going to be really dangerous. She went on to express that this is awful and needs to stop now! Kids are not even going to be able to enjoy trick or treating with the threat of a clown possibly hurting kids. We had to talk for a while about all of this. We brainstormed why this is happening and what our reactions and responsibilities are with all of this.

Frankly, I am at a loss. I wish I had stepped up earlier, maybe this could have been put to a halt in our neck of the woods. The take home for us all, talk to your kids! Remind them of being safe and tell them your expectations. Find out what is happening on social media. We have had a clown in our community for what my teens have told me since the first part of September, just yesterday, there was an admission from our local college that yes, there has been a sighting. It was followed up with “all of our students are safe.”

While I appreciate this, it also makes this mom a little upset! Not talking about this “clown” stuff that is happening here along with lots of other communities in the United States is in my estimation, not helping this situation! It is a form of terror/bullying and I know in my household, it is causing a lot of unnecessary anxiety and fear. We need to come together in our communities, report anything suspicious and give a clear message that we will not be scared or frightened of this social media created boogie man. It is no longer a joking matter, but one that is spreading like an epidemic.

If you just google and read the headlines, you soon will find that in other areas, clowns are being arrested for crimes and today, there are entire school districts on lock down or closed due to clown sightings. Fear is gripping communities and having impact on teens and young adults around the country. I am in hopes that communities will come up with sound strategies on the most effective way to put these clown incidents behind us before this turns into a more serious situation. In the mean time, talk to your kids, set guidelines as to how you would handle clown sightings and in general, safety that includes a discussion about social media. Clowns should be producers of joy and laughter not fear and anxiety.

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