Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Slenderman Stabbing: What Motivated Two 12-Year-Old Girls To Attempt A Horror Killing

Two 12-year-old girls were arrested for allegedly luring a third girl, also 12, into the woods and then stabbing her 19 times.  All three girls were friends, and the attack does not appear to be maliciously motivated.

Rather, this incident seems to be inspired  by Slender Man, an internet comic book character that stars in horror genre.  Authorities alleged that the girls were trying to impress Slender Man with their abilities.

Thankfully, the girl who was stabbed survived.  She was able to crawl away to a nearby road, where she was discovered by a biker.  She is listed in stable condition at the hospital.

It is a disturbing incident in more ways than one.  Not only for the creepiness of 2 teenage girls aspiring to murder their friend to fulfill a horror fantasy, but the fact that the victim was stabbed so many times.  Unlike firearm assaults, stabbings are up-close and personal, and to stab someone repeatedly, thrusting the knife in again after the victim cries out, requires at least a temporary absence of empathy. Usually its rage that shuts down empathy, but it can also be abandoned out of group affiliation or various beliefs.  This is why bullying is such a problem.  Even otherwise nice kids can do horrifically cruel things when either armed with why the victim deserves it, or cloaked in group affiliations that promote an "us versus them" mentality.

Sensational Life Versus Reality
By 12, all three of these girls can distinguish between real consequences and make believe.  That isn't the problem as some pundits have suggested.  If what has been said can be believed, it's the strong identification with this character that is at issue. A character that is somewhat odd, but also clever, witty, and especially powerful -- exerting his will over others -- can be an alluring archetype for youths this age.

Another problem is even for kids perfectly capable of distinguishing between real and fantasy, fantasy can seem so much more appealing than reality.  Especially in today's sensationalized society, many kids run into problems when they compare their own relatively dull lives to the drama they are exposed to through reality TV or other types of media.  They feel that there is something missing, or that their life should be something more.  They get the idea that every persons reality should resemble a TV script.  It is this confusion about what a normal life should entail that causes problems.

Most adolescents will not try to murder someone in an attempt to fit their life into an exciting script.  All teens do, however, bring the necessary conflict into their lives (both internal and external) by confusing media normal for their own normal, it's something every parent should be aware of.

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