Since reports first emerged about a group of people dressed as clowns luring children into the woods of South Carolina in late August, clown frenzy has swept the nation without showing signs of slowing down.
The truth is, clown sightings, pranks, and hoaxes aren’t new at all. After serial killer and charity clown John Wayne Gacy was sentenced for the murders of 33 people in 1980, clown sightings became something of a staple in local newspapers, with appearances happening every few years.
This year, though, the stunt really caught on. Reports of sightings have popped up in almost every state. Hundreds of Penn State students took to the streets after word spread that clowns had been spotted on campus. The question of creepy clowns even came up during a White House press briefing.
But with all the viral hype, it’s easy to forget that the craze is causing some serious problems. An 11-year-old girl in Georgia was arrested for bringing a knife to school to defend herself against clowns, and a 13-year-old in Virginia was arrested for asking a clown to kill her teacher over social media.
And at the end of September, a Pennsylvania 16-year-old who was allegedly wearing a clown mask to scare neighborhood children was stabbed to death following a confrontation.
For professional clowns, anti-clown backlash is making business even tougher than before. Membership in the World Clown Association has reportedly dropped from 3,500 in 2004 to 2,500 in 2014. The rising amount of negative attention has even led to the organization of a "Clown Lives Matter" peace walk in Tucson, Arizona.
Check out the video above to learn more about the recent wave of clown panic.