Since the early 80s, there have been several localized rumor-panics in North America and Europe involving sightings of phantom clowns attempting to kidnap children. They have also been referred to as Killer Clowns and Kidnapping Clowns. At first glance, it would be tempting to think that there may be a group of criminals dressing up as clowns. Yet, when you examine the reports, a curious trend appears: they are almost never caught, and vanish into the shadows. There is also a lack of tangible evidence. All police have to go on is eyewitness testimony, which is notoriously unreliable, especially given that most witnesses are children. Another curious fact is that the children always seem to get away. The clowns appear totally incompetent. (Robert Bartholomew, Ph.D., “Phantom Clowns in South Carolina Are Nothing New: Killer Clowns From Your Imagination,” Psychology Today (August 31, 2016).)
But if there’s one thing people who relish moral panics hate, it’s being told they’re wrong.