Slender Man, Pre-Teen Idiots, and Why Juveniles Should be Tried as Juveniles
Ah, Slender Man. The bane of my existence as a school librarian. At the end of class, I give the older kids a little time to use the computers; some of them like to play a game called Roblox, where kids make Lego-Man-esque avatars and run around in an imaginary world having dance parties, driving cars, and looking for Slender Man. When they find him, they inevitably shriek with “surprise,” making my school library the loudest one in all of Connecticut and perhaps the world.
Thanks to Slender Man and the annoyance he causes me, Roblox will be blocked next year. Hell, it might even be blocked next week. Who cares if it’s June? The kids don’t like me anyways…
But Slender Man apparently causes way worse problems for some people – on May 31 in Waukesha, Wisconsin, two 12-year-old girls stabbed their “friend” 19 times the morning after a sleepover, in order to become “proxies” for the imaginary character. The victim survived and the would-be murderers are being tried as adults.
Have you ever heard of anything stupider than trying to kill your friend over an internet meme?
Of course not. And that’s precisely why these girls should be tried as juveniles, despite the severity of the crime. Think about everything you did from age 11 to approximately 14 — probably nothing as heinous as this, but there must be a few cringe-worthy incidents. I remember things I said to my parents around that time and I’m surprised they didn’t throw me out on the street. Thank goodness Slender Man didn’t exist when I was in middle school.
I’m not trying to excuse what these girls did in any way, or say that they shouldn’t pay for their actions. Still, it’s a scientific fact that the human brain isn’t fully developed until the early-mid twenties. (Why do you think the Army lets you sign up at 18?) Adolescents and pre-adolescents don’t have the empathy and understanding of permanence that adults do, which makes them much more likely to drive too fast, try weird drugs, have unprotected sex, and occasionally kill their friends for no reason. Trying a 12-year-old in adult court simply isn’t appropriate.
A lawyer for the girls is trying to get the case moved to juvy court, and hopefully that will happen. This reminds me of the case of Paula Cooper, who at age 15 killed an elderly woman for pretty much no reason and was sentenced to death. That sentence was later commuted to sixty years in prison, but she ended up being released in 2013 after serving only 27 years, in part because of petitions from the victim’s son. He told CNN that “he’s never asked Cooper to explain her actions (because) ‘there’s not a good answer for that.’”
This also reminds me of those two teens in California that were shot and killed last month while robbing an elderly woman’s home for the third time. They got what was coming to them for their adolescent stupidity, but maybe if they had been arrested instead, they would have turned their lives around. (Or just grown up to be adult scumbags – we’ll never know.) The Wisconsin girls are lucky that they don’t have to pay as dearly for their stupidity – but they should pay as the children they are, not as adults.