As the scary clown frenzy continues on social media, it’s not easy to separate hype from reality.
Several law enforcement agencies have issued statements saying they have not been able to substantiate any of the claims about attacks or sightings coming from scary clowns.
But experts say one thing is real regarding the scary clown phenomenon: many kids are scared.
Psychologist Sandy Ramirez says in a way, this is nothing new. Lots of kids, and many adults, have been scared of clowns for years. She says fear of clowns, known in clinical circles as coulrophobia, offers an opportunity for parents to talk to their kids about what is bothering them.
“It’s a great time to pick out an opportunity to have a conversation with their child,” said Ramirez. “My favorite is when you’re sitting in the car and they’re a captive audience, then you can bring up the topic and say, ‘You know, right now, this is going around. Let’s talk about that a little bit.’”
Ramirez also says that many fears are exacerbated by the media, including the scary clown trend. She recommends taking extra care to police your child’s media intake, including screen time.
Parent Tammy Romero said this phenomenon is a good reminder that clowns aren’t inherently scary, but that scary people can dress as clowns.
“People make them dangerous,” she said. “The propaganda that goes behind it is what makes things dangerous."