Friday, January 18, 2008

Do Clowns Freak Kids Out?

Clowns are a strange bunch, aren't they? It seems that people either love them or loathe them. Clowns are meant to delight children and adults alike, as they dance through parades and circuses and hand out candy and animal-shaped balloons at children's parties. But start talking about clowns in any group of adults, and you will almost always find someone who is terrified of them! There is actually a medical name for the fear of clowns: Coulrophobia.
Experts trying to decide what types of decorations were most uplifting for children in pediatric hospitals did a study of 250 children between the ages of four and sixteen. The study found that none of the children surveyed like clowns, and many were actually frightened of clowns... even the older kids in the group. Based on these findings, the experts recommended that pediatric hospitals and doctors offices do not decorate their spaces with images of clowns! Kids would rather have pictures of popular things from modern society. (Like Hannah Montana, perhaps?)
After hearing of this study, actual clowns are arguing their cases! There are many organizations that send clowns to children's hospitals to cheer up the young patients, and clowns who participate in these programs say that children are always happy to see them.
I think maybe kids dislike pictures of clowns, more than they dislike actual clowns being in their presence. A lot of images of clowns are sort of scary if you think about them. (Remember Bart Simpson's clown bed? "Can't...sleep! Clown... will... eat me!")
I've never found clowns particularly scary or funny, myself. Even when I was little, I just saw clowns as regular people dressed up in costume. In fact, I have a funny clown story! One time, my dad took my brother and I out to a Big Boy restaurant. We used to go there every Tuesday, because kids ate free, and a clown was there to twist balloons and make jokes. That day my dad had left his wallet behind, and he went home to get it, leaving my brother and I in the custody of the clown. When my mom found out (about 20 years later!) she freaked, saying she couldn't believe my dad had left us kids alone with "that weird clown!" Hm...
What do you think about clowns? Love 'em, or loathe 'em?

1 comment:

Yondalla said...

I don't recall having strong feelings as a kid, but both my bioboys were afraid of them when they were little and not much interested in them when they were older.