Clowns sicken young patients

By Legal Eagle

I’ve written posts before about my deep and abiding hatred of clowns. Once on a plane, that movie Patch Adams was showing, featuring Robin Williams as an unconventional doctor who wears a clown outfit. I tried to keep my eyes closed for most of it after I saw him wearing long shoes and a red nose. My thought at the time was that if any doctor dressed as a clown came near me, I’d run screaming and probably take a turn for the worse.

Apparently I’m not alone. My Mum sent me this article about a British study which shows that kids between the ages of four and sixteen have an almost universal dislike of clowns, and many children find them scary. Clowns in childrens’ hospitals do not cheer the children up, and are more likely to scare them.

Penny Curtis, one of the researchers, is quoted in the article as saying:

“As adults we make assumptions about what works for children. We found that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them quite frightening and unknowable.”

They should employ me as the “cheerer-up” at hospitals. I certainly wouldn’t assume that people would be amused by clowns. And there’s no way I would inflict clowns on patients, whether child or adult. Who actually finds clowns funny? Sometimes I wonder.


  1. Posted January 18, 2008 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    “As adults we make assumptions about what works for children. ”

    Reminds me of the conflict between student and teacher centered teaching methodologies. Differing learning styles, interests (and thus motivation) within a given topic, different talents and so on really require teachers (and hospital staff and probably parents as well) to give the kiddlings more of a say in the process.

    Also helps the kids learn to negotiate and appreciate their differences from others.

  2. Posted January 19, 2008 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Good point Bruce. When I taught indigenous students or ESL students or students with dyslexia, I found that I had to be more creative with my teaching strategies. It’s a question of assessing your audience and what works for them.

  3. Posted January 20, 2008 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    RCH in Melbourne use entertainers to visit the wards and they are really good. They don’t dress up like clowns but perform clown-like antics.

    They also appear to be mindful of the fact that ill or injured people are often in no mood for funny business and tread warily.

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