Clowns have been used in children’s ministry for years. But recent research has discovered that most children ages 4 to 16 dislike clown images. The research was an effort to find ways to improve healthcare environments for children and young people.
“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.” Dr. Penny Curtis, Researcher, Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth.
“Very few children like clowns. They are unfamiliar and come from a different era. They don’t look funny, they just look odd. Children are much more happy with things stuck on the wall that have some sort of personal relevance for them, not some images that are foisted upon them by adults.” Patricia Doorbar, Child Psychologist.
I thought this was an interesting bit of research. For more I can see the way in which Patricia Doorbar is right, clowns are from a completely different era. But at the same time I have been at events where children and young people have loved clowns. It would be interesting to explore the opportunity to change some of their image without changing the techniques and skills linked to clowning.