As the rumor of "creepy clowns" has parents and the media in a panic, local San Francisco school children are apparently echoing national fears to one another. An automated call to parents and guardians from the San Francisco Unified School District implies that the concern is real, if misplaced, and heightened by schoolyard stories and social media posts among impressionable students.
"What we know is that no actual assaults have been reported in the Bay Area," says a school social worker on the below voicemail recording. "We encourage you to speak with your child about what they are really feeling."
Meanwhile, reports of creepy clown sightings, implicitly intimidating but not explicitly threatening or violent, continue to dominate the news cycle. San Ramon Police officer Sargent Cerruti tells KRON4 that his department received calls about four creepy clown sightings Thursday night in the area of Hidden Valley Park. Another creepy clown was seen and photographed in Richmond on Wednesday, as KRON4 also reported.
Previously, a Concord woman claimed she and her one-year-old daughter were the victims of an abduction attempt: At a Denny's, a man in a clown wig engaged her in conversation — he couldn't have been that creepy, I guess, and interestingly they talked about this whole clown thing itself. Matters took a turn when he reportedly gave the woman's daughter a tug on the leg — the kidnapping attempt, for which she kicked him until he ran off.
"It’s mostly about attention," a psychology professor, Guarav Suri, offered by way of explanation yesterday. "The internet also adds sort of steroids to this phenomenon because even if it’s not being covered on TV it's covered on someone’s Facebook page and that thing goes viral and all of the sudden that is more of a motivation for someone who is seeking attention to want to dress up in a clown outfit."
As evidenced by the SFUSD robocall, the unflappable adult world is leading its progeny by example. You know, by somewhat prematurely banning clown costumes this upcoming Halloween in a South Bay school district according to ABC7, for instance. TV news is busy launching investigations into clown costume sales (up 300 percent) and asking the tough questions: What effect is this having on everyday working clown performers and businesses, hmmm?) I hesitate to call this clown business a joke, but if it were, I suspect it would be on us!