ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Police say a fearful 11-year-old Georgia girl who took a knife to school told officers she needed the weapon to fend off clowns.

The Athens Banner-Herald reports the girl was arrested Friday at Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School in Athens amid reports and social media posts about clowns frightening children in Georgia and other states.

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An Athens-Clarke County police report states the girl said she needed the knife to protect her and her family because she had heard the stories about clowns jumping out of the woods and attacking children.

(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

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Police say they released the girl to her mother on a charge of possession of a weapon on school grounds.

In neighboring Alabama, law enforcement officials are warning that people involved in a rash of creepy clown hoaxes across the state could be prosecuted.

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