A Leighton Buzzard school decided to cancel its Hallowe’en dress up day in the wake off the ‘killer clown’ craze.
Beaudesert Lower School, Appenine Way, changed their PTA fundraising Hallowe’en dress up day on Friday, October 21, to a normal casual-wear mufti-day due to UK sightings of people wearing clown masks to intimidate members of the public.
Many parents from Leighton Buzzard have reported that their children have been spooked by reports, with rumours running rife in playground talk and children requesting that their parents walk them to school for safety.
Some Leighton children have even been suffering from nightmares and panic attacks because they are frightened of seeing a clown.
Leighton parent, Stephen Tyers, said: “I have two children, one of whom (aged 8) goes to Beaudesert and I fully support the school’s decision to cancel the Hallowe’en day.
“I fear that it is only a matter of time before something serious happens due to the craze. There could be an over the top reaction if someone is scared by a clown costume - what if a child runs into the road?”
Elaine Cox, Beaudesert Lower School headteacher, said: “Our PTA had arranged a Hallowe’en fundraising day. However, the school were advised by the police and local authorities that in light of the ‘scary clown craze’ we should avoid targeted dress up days.
“As Hallowe’en occurs during the holidays parents have freedom of choice as to how children dress up and which parties to attend. Hallowe’en is not normally a festival we celebrate in school, so we have had a non-uniform day instead to raise funds for the PTA.”
Party shops have also come under fire from parents, who are questioning whether the companies should sell clown costumes at all, arguing that ‘teenagers’ could use them to intimidate young children.
Perfect Parties, Lake Street, have almost sold out of clown masks, as Leighton prepares to celebrate Hallowe’en.
Manager, Andy Culling, said: “It’s not the masks that are the problem - it’s what people do with them.
“It’s only a small minority who are causing problems and their actions are bang out of order.
“People speculating about what customers are going to do if they purchase a clown mask are prejudging the youth of Leighton Buzzard, which isn’t right.
“We take a responsible view with what we are supplying and we wouldn’t sell a product to somebody if we knew they were going to get up to no good with it.”
A Bedfordshire Police spokesperson said: “We did issue a press release about the issue of clowns.
“We understand that in the lead up to Halloween, people may wish to dress up and enjoy themselves. However, there is a difference between this and acting in an unacceptable and threatening manner towards people. What may seem like a laugh to you could cause a great deal of fear and anxiety to others and your behaviour could be perceived as intimidating.
“Additionally, this type of behaviour is also tying up valuable police resources, which could impact on calls to life-and-death emergencies. Wasting public resources will not be tolerated.”