Once upon a time it was alien abductions, and not so long before that, the Satanic panic of the 1980s, a wave of hysteria that spilled over into some of the child abuse prosecutions of that era with sometimes appalling consequences.
Now there is this.
The Independent reports:
Sightings of creepy clowns trying to lure children away are spreading across the US, with no-one sure whether the whole thing is a hoax or a terrifying new trend in abductions.
Four states have now reported the sinister sightings.
They began in South Carolina, before spreading to North Carolina and have since surfaced in Georgia and Alabama….
In Georgia, police said they had received numerous reports of clowns trying to talk to children as well as a threat by someone promising to dress up and kidnap school pupils….
Officers finally solved part of the mystery on Thursday, saying they had charged two people with making false police reports after they say the pair called 911 to report that people dressed as clowns were trying to lure children into a white van.
Police who responded to the calls found found two people in a white van who had run out of gas, and found no clown masks or costumes, and the 911 callers admitted the whole thing was a hoax.
The reports are not entirely new, however.
Bakersfield was among the towns in California that was gripped in2014 by dozens of reports of clown sightings including some saying they were armed.