Frightened children have been phoning Childline because of their fears of harassment by creepy clowns.
In just one week Childline has been contacted 120 times by children scared by the sinister trend in which people dress up as terrifying clowns in order to scare passers-by.
Sightings of the so-called ‘killer clowns’ have been reported via social media in Tilgate Park, Gossops Green and Goffs Park after the sinister trend spread to Britain from America.
A quarter of those contacting Childline about clowns were under the age of 11 and from all over the country.
The sudden deluge of contacts to Childline reflects an increase of reported incidents across the UK. Cases reported to police have involved clowns chasing children with weapons such as knives or baseball bats and in some instances clowns have been specifically targeting schools.
Children have also been targeted online, and in one instance a 13-year-old girl told how she was messaged on Instagram from someone posing as a clown who threatened to cut her throat and rape her.
The NSPCC is advising children who are concerned about creepy clowns to talk to a parent or a teacher or trusted adult and contact the police if they are threatened by a creepy clown in the street.
An NSPCC spokesperson said: “People getting dressed up as ‘creepy clowns’ and frightening children should take a long hard look at themselves. Clowns are meant to make children laugh but these people are abusing this idea and turning it into something twisted and warped.
“Increasing reports that these ‘clowns’ are not simply seeking to frighten children but using them to intimidate, commit crimes, abuse or bully are deeply worrying and this trend needs to be stamped out.
“Young people should stay well away from them. And if they do happen to see a ‘creepy clown’ out on the streets or lurking near their school they should immediately tell their parents or the nearest responsible adult and report it to the police where necessary.
“If a child is worried they should call Childline on 0800 1111 or get in touch via chidline.org.uk”