Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Creepy Clown Threats Are Making Kids Criminals Online

The recent trend of creepy clowns creeping people out seems to be gaining steam. Over the past week, a school dad was arrested for following his child's bus while dressed as a clown, several schools had to deal with threats relating to creepy clowns on or around campus, and one California mother reported a clown attempting to kidnap her child. Now, kids are getting in trouble for posting clown-related threats on social media, scaring locals and disrupting schools.

Clowns are supposed to cheer people up, entertain children, and joke around, but the clown pranks and crimes are not making anyone laugh. Police departments, schools, and even college students, are anxious and fearful that these creepy clowns that have been appearing around the country have violent intentions. The same is true whether a threat is made by a clown on the street or a clown on the internet.

Creepy Clown Threats Online

Over the past weekend, an 11-year-old boy confessed to inciting fears at his elementary school in Salinas, California through his creepy clown Instagram threats. The student intentionally mimicked what he's seen happening across the country with the recent creepy clown incidents. The threats sparked widespread fears, causing some parents to pull their kids from school. After the boy confessed to posting the threats, he was cited for cyberbullying.

This was no isolated incident. A young student in Marysville, California was also recently caught posting clown threats that had local residents in fear of their safety. The online "clownpocalypse" has even spread into schools in Canada.

When Clown Costumes Clash With the Law

Although the fear of clowns is widely considered a legitimate phobia, it's really the fact that adults are walking around in costume that is frightening people. The SF Chronicle explains that the act of donning a costume or mask provides the wearer with a sense of anonymity, which just like internet message boards, emboldens people to be offensive and act out.

In many states, there are laws on the books to prohibit adults from wearing masks that hide their face. Many of these laws were passed over half a century ago in response to the Klu Klux Klan. Despite the Klu Klux Klan not having the same impact on today's world, the laws seem equally applicable today as the creepy clowns appear to be focused on scaring the public.

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