The “killer clown” craze sweeping the UK has led to a deluge of calls to Childline from youngsters left terrified by the sinister phenomenon sweeping the UK.
In just one week the charity was contacted 120 times by children scared by people dressed up in frightening clown costumes to scare passers-by.
The bizarre fad has left police up and down the country dealing with a wave of incidents, with forces warning that jokers or criminals using the costumes to deliberately scare people will face arrest.
A quarter of the calls to Childline about clowns came from children under 11, while more than a third came from terrified youngsters between 12 and 15.
The news comes as one Huddersfield mum claims a knife-wielding clown tried to steal her three-month-old baby in an attack in Deighton.
Last week South Yorkshire Police said it had received 61 reports since September 21, including two of clowns with knives.
The US- born craze has seen cases of clowns chasing children with weapons such as knives or baseball bats, in some instances specifically targeting schools.
With Halloween looming, John Cameron, head of Childline, urged people dressing up to act responsibly.
He told the Press Association: “There is a worrying trend at the moment with some individuals, be they older children or adults, deliberately seeking to dress up in a way not to entertain but to behave in a very scary and threatening way.
“That’s a conscious behaviour and should not be tolerated. Sometimes people don’t understand the impact that can have.”