LEAVE the creepy clown masks at home this Halloween, say some Northern Rivers schools.
Following a spate of creepy clown sightings in Australia, some of which have incited violence and clown vigilantism, some schools have chosen to err on the side caution and have banned clown costumes.
The creepy clown phenomenon, in which participants dress up as menacing clowns with the aim of scaring unsuspecting victims, started in the US after clowns allegedly lured children into the woods. There have been copy cat clown attacks across Australia, as close as the Gold Coast.
Albert Park Public School in Lismore is one of the local schools which had banned students from wearing scary clown costumes for its Halloween event.
And the principal of Barkers Vale Public School, Kathy Johnston, said that while the school did not have a ban as such, it would suggest that no-one should be dressing up in a scary outfit.
"Happy, friendly clowns, yes. Scary clowns, no," she said.
Casino High School principal Neil Schneider said his school had a long-standing ban on masks, scary or not, for health and safety reasons.
"We don't allow anything that disguises a student's identity - that includes hoodies and masks," he said.
Since the scary clown craze, Lismore entertainer and facepainter Donna Walker said she had a self-imposed ban on dressing up as a clown.
"People don't trust clowns, particularly men, even before the scary clown craze, and it is pretty sad," she said.
"I prefer to dress up as a 'rainbow person' rather than a clown. Full clown facepaint can be confronting for some (people)."
According to the Geelong Advertiser, Geelong College in Victoria recently put a ban on muck-up day uniforms including scary clowns and masks.
In a statement from Richmond Area Local Command earlier this month, Senior Constable David Henderson said: "There is some social media scuttlebutt about people dressing in clowns in our area, assaulting and killing people.
"Total amount of clowns seen by police in the Northern Rivers? Zero. Same goes for Grafton, Tweed Heads and Coffs Harbour.
"This appears to be just another piece of social media scare scaremongering. Unfortunately some younger people and the more vulnerable are quite scared they are going to be attacked by a killer clown. Spreading these dodgy stories only unnecessarily scares people."