How should schools manage the impact of the ‘killer clown’ craze?
This unsettling craze is something that started in the USA and has spread to Britain and other countries. Whilst some might view this as funny, the act of frightening or threatening others is enough to warrant public order offences.
How are schools being affected?
Schools and their stakeholders can be affected in a number of ways, most importantly because children can become very distressed by the actions of these clowns.
The craze has worryingly progressed; ‘killer clowns’ have actually targeted a number of schools across the UK, causing children and young people to feel scared, anxious and intimidated. Some incidences have included the brandishing of weapons to intensify fear and now actual physical attacks. Social media has been used to warn school pupils that their schools will be targeted, and this has resulted in retaliation and threats of vigilante attacks.
Media impact for schools
As there has been intense media coverage of the ‘killer clown’ craze, which now includes acts of violence, it is important that children and young people are reassured of their own safety within school. Children and young people should be reminded who to report any concerns to, including incidences on social media and should be informed of what action will be taken. To ensure children feel safe, it may be appropriate to increase adult presence during break times, and during times where students arrive and depart from school.
How schools should effectively respond
This issue should be taken seriously, like any other safeguarding matter and addressed in accordance with safeguarding procedures, with reference to school social media policies. The whole school community (pupils, staff, governors and parents) should be reminded of these policies/procedures and the school’s stance on this particular craze, including discouraging any popularising of this craze on social media.
Schools should make it clear through their website and parental communications, that any behaviour that causes children to feel frightened and intimidated will not be tolerated. Such incidences, including vigilante responses, will be reported through the correct channels.
Contacting the police is the advice given by forces across the whole country, who have asked they be contacted using 101 over ‘killer clown’ sightings. The police have also warned that taking part in the craze may result in public order offences or worse, as well as condemning vigilante groups. One man in South Wales has already been given a criminal record for such acts.