Creepy clown sightings have been reported in Ohio, South Carolina, North Carolina, California, Wisconsin, and Georgia, causing fear and panic to many communities. Are these “clowns” just pranksters? Or is something more serious going on?
Several children have said they were offered money by the clowns to follow them into the woods. And dozens of these kinds of sightings have been reported to local police.
“It’s illegal, it’s dangerous, it’s inappropriate, it’s creating community concern,” said Greenville, SC police chief, Ken Miller.
Residents at an apartment complex in South Carolina reported having been terrorized by people wearing clown makeup. These residents may have also fired shots into the woods in response, according to a police investigation.
Needless to say, people aren’t laughing at these clowns.
As a parent, what, if anything, should you tell your child about these events? After all, they see Ronald McDonald on TV, or on the box of a Happy Meal all the time. Clowns are supposed to be entertainers who make an audience laugh.
But the threat of criminals dressed as clowns is definitely not a laughing matter.
Here are some tips on how you can talk to your children about keeping safe around strangers.
Someone wearing a t-shirt and jeans doesn’t necessarily portray “villain” to a child. Help your children understand that dangerous people don’t necessarily look like Captain Hook or Cruella de Vil. The New Jersey State Police has been using the creepy clown sightings to remind people that most criminals don’t usually wear such conspicuous clothing.
If you happen to know every line from Frozen, then you probably remember how Hans turns out to be the bad guy. You can use this aspect of the story as an analogy to your daughters about how someone they think they know could be “the bad guy”.
Give your children the confidence to say “no” and to exit an uncomfortable situation.
Teach them who the trusted adults are in your circle of family, friends and neighbors. Also remember that so-called trusted adults can and have caused harm to children they know. You can do a background check on anyone you presume shouldn’t have your trust.
Teach them that if an adult they don’t know asks for help, it’s not OK, and that adults need to ask other adults for help.
If the worst case scenario ever happens and your child is grabbed, make sure your child knows to “yell and scream ‘You are not my parents…I don’t know you’” and to “bite, kick and fight to get away”, according to guidance from the [Ann Arbor Police Department].
Ask them what they would do in hypothetical dangerous situations and guide their response if they need help understanding.
Don’t just tell your kids, “Don’t talk to strangers” and leave it at that. They need more guidance. They need to know why so they can help protect themselves. Teaching your children about stranger danger shouldn’t involve evoking fear. So speak calmly and rationally. Teaching them these lessons means you’re passing on wisdom and therefore growing their confidence.
: http://www.a2gov.org/departments/police/Documents/How to prevent child abductions.pdf