Parents urged to talk to children about ‘clown-related’ threats after Surrey incident

Safer Schools Together says many students see the creepy clown phenomenon as a prank and not as criminal behaviour

A clown at Surrey's Potters House of Horrors.

SURREY — The creepy clown phenomenon that has manifested itself in North America, the United Kingdom and Australia had its first reported incident in Surrey last week.

Theresa Campbell, president of the White Rock-based organization Safer Schools Together, subsequently issued a parent advisory bulletin on “clown-related” threats, noting that “many students see this as a prank and not as criminal behaviour.”

Campbell said the majority of the threats, which in other areas have “typically” referenced “kidnapping or targeting schools with threats of violence,” have been made through social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.

Surrey School District spokesman Doug Strachan said Wednesday that Surrey’s Safe Schools department reports that there have been “no clown incidents involving schools” in this city.

“I haven’t heard that it’s been an issue in the district,” he added.

Meantime, four teenagers were chased by someone wearing a clown mask at about 8 p.m. Oct. 5th, near 60th Avenue and 144th Street in Newton.

Surrey RCMP Sergeant Alanna Dunlop said the clown appeared to be carrying a bat.

“He was laughing. He came out of the bush,” she said. “They ran.”

Once the teens reached an intersection, she said, “They went one direction and he went another.”

Nobody was physically harmed but police are “taking it seriously,” Dunlop said of the incident.

She said the person was wearing dark pants, a black hoodie and a clown mask.

“I don’t have any description of the mask,” she said.

There was also a clown incident in Langley.

Campbell, formerly the manager of Safe Schools for the Surrey School District, noted in her bulletin that it’s “imperative” that parents speak with their children about reporting clown-related threats if they encounter them on social media “and bring them to the attention of school officials and/or law enforcement.

“It is also important,” her bulletin reads, “to make students aware that if they engage in, or participate in any way, in this type of threat-related behaviour they will experience discipline and/or criminal charges.”

tom.zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com