Ding Dong Ditching: Harmless Prank or Harassment


Saturday, Sept. 10, Trish Wall of Greenwood, Miss., was sitting on the couch talking about college with her daughter before heading to bed. It was well after one o’clock in the morning and the streets outside the house were quiet. The television was on as background noise when suddenly someone pounded on the front door with the intention to break it down.

Terrified that someone might break in the house, Wall locked all the doors before calling the Greenwood Police Department. “We saw brake lights outside the window and tried to decide what to do before calling the police,” she said. “We needed to know that no one was possibly lurking around the house.”

The police officer who checked around the house said that there was no one around the property. He assured both mother and daughter that they were safe. Unfortunately, neither Wall or her daughter could sleep well that night after the incident.

This prank known by most adolescents and young adults was an example of “ding dong ditching.” While mostly harmless, this prank became more adventurous as the years had gone by. What mainly consisted of teenagers ringing doorbells or banging doors during late evenings; now became a night activity.

“At camp, we always ding dong ditched other counselors in their cabins, but in a controlled environment, such as a gated community, pranking someone this way isn’t dangerous,” Taylor Coleman, a junior elementary education major, said.

She added that it also depended on the situation, on the person who enacted the prank, and the time of day. A joke such as this one should allow both parties to laugh instead of a single group enjoying the act.

“If you’re going to do it as a joke, then do it during the daytime and not at night,” she said. “That’s an absolute ‘no.’”

Hannah Stanford, a sophomore, also agreed that people should not who prank their friends or family late at night. “I don’t think it’s right to scare the crap out of people, personally,” she said. “It’s an invasion of privacy and disrespectful at the same time.”

With the South known for its well-practiced use of the Second Amendment, some homeowners might take drastic measures in ensuring their safety. When Wall was a little girl living in Indianola, Miss., she knew a woman who was home for the weekend from college. The woman’s boyfriend came back from college and wanted to surprise his girlfriend. “When he did, he knocked on her bedroom window,” Wall said. “Of course, it scared her and her dad who thought it was a prowler—shot and killed the boy.”  

“That’s something I’ve heard and knew about my whole life,” She added. “I think that doing that sort of thing could result in some tragic circumstances.”

With October less than two weeks away, more teenagers and young adults will be venturing out to play pranks. Most children and adolescents will enact pranks such as rolling a person’s yard with toilet paper or egging someone’s house. Both of these “harmless pranks” were considered by homeowners as not an annoyance and an act of vandalism and trespassing.

Stanford’s cousin was a victim of a similar prank on Halloween night where a group of friends banged on her bedroom window. “She didn’t know who it was until later. I don’t think it’s morally correct to scare someone just for the sake of a prank. There are plenty of other pranks that don’t require you to knock on my window in the middle of the night.”

Wall had this to say about children who planned to play pranks throughout October and Halloween. “Don’t do it. There are lots of ways to have fun without doing that because it can be construed as trespassing or harassment.”

While pranks such as ding dong ditching were meant to be a means to have fun, people can go too far.

Remember this the next time you plan to play a trick on a friend.