Talk to kids about creepy clown threats warns anti-bullying group to B.C. parents
'When you start to talk about threat-related behaviour and targeting schools, that is a criminal code offence'
An anti-bullying group that works with the B.C. Ministry of Education wants parents to warn their children about the criminal implications of "creepy clown" threats on social media.
The phenomenon has swept across North America as teens and adults dress up as clowns and spook people. In B.C. last week, a teen in Prince George threatened a school with a photo posted to Instagram.
Organization's president, Theresa Campbell, said the message was prompted by multiple reports of anonymous clown-related threats throughout B.C. schools on Friday.
"When our kids call this behaviour a prank, [we need to] make sure we're calling it what it is — and when you start to talk about threat-related behaviour and targeting schools, that is a criminal code offence," she said.
"We are seeing kids that are facing charges for these threats."
'Because I can' effect
Campbell calls the main driver behind the threats is the "because I can" effect — imitating other similar threats they've seen on social media.
"They're essentially feeling that when they're online, that they're anonymous," she said.
However, she also noted that in some cases the threats are motivated by a desire to incite fear.
The message sent out on Friday also emphasized the need for parents to tell their children to report the threats if they see them on social media.
But Campbell also emphasized that she wants parents to know that schools have training and teams in place to evaluate the threats and keep schools safe.
Another reason why her organization sent out the message on Friday was to assuage parents' concerns.