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Clowns in Tigertown? Don’t come out to play

The Clemson University Police Department says that it received reports of multiple clown sightings on campus last week. Officers investigated these reports but found no evidence of crimes being committed, saying that responding officers found no one dressed in clown costumes and no videos or pictures of anyone dressed as a clown. 
The reports are the most recent in a string of clown sightings that began in August, when several people in Greenville, South Carolina told police that clowns were trying to lure children into nearby woods. Since then, similar reports have surfaced across the country, though few of the incidents have resulted in arrests or evidence that the clowns actually exist. Police believe that most of the sightings are likely hoaxes, with the reports either being outright false or stemming from pranksters dressed in clown costumes.
Reports of clown sightings at college campuses have occurred at dozens of institutions. Students have reported seeing clowns at the Universities of Connecticut, Iowa, Oregon, Florida, Missouri at Columbia and Texas at Austin. Most recently, a clown sighting at Penn State resulted in a massive clown hunt across the State College, PA campus, with more than 6,000 people participating.

However, the clown sightings are nothing new. In the 1980s, clown sightings were reported across the United States. It is believed that the sightings were nothing more than a harmless prank, prompted by the release of some horror films that featured clowns. Police believe that recent television shows and films featuring clowns may have once again triggered the prank activities.

Dr. Cynthia Pury, the Associate Editor for the Journal of Positive Psychology and also a Professor and Undergraduate Coordinator of Psychology at Clemson University, said that costumed characters, like clowns, are often perceived as “scary” by children “because they move like humans and mostly look like humans but have unnaturalness about them.”
“The whole clown thing dominating the news now seems to be a combination of mass hysteria fueled by people willing to attribute a movement, shadow, etc…to it being a clown when it actually is not, and a few people capitalizing on it by dressing as clowns to prank others,” said Pury, “Real clowns are performers who have training in their art form and who use that training to entertain others. I’m certain this is upsetting to them.”
CUPD is urging students to use caution when traveling at night. If you see a clown on campus, you should immediately report it to CUPD with the time, location and description of the clown. CUPD says to stay away from the clown and avoid confronting them. 
 If it is safe to do so, take a picture and share it with CUPD. If you have downloaded the Rave Guardian app, you can send the photo directly to them. The Rave Guardian app is available for both Android and Apple devices and can be downloaded from Google Play and the App Store.
CUPD is reminding people to remember that as Halloween approaches, people will be wearing costumes for some events, especially on the weekend prior to Monday, October 31. 
They are encouraging people to consider their costume carefully given the current national circumstances regarding clown costumes. They are also reminding people that under South Carolina state law, it is a misdemeanor for anyone over the age of 16 to wear a mask on public property, except on Halloween. 

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