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Image of Slenderman

In a disturbing, bizarre case, two 12-year-old girls attempted to kill another in the name of a fictional, online character.

Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier of Wisconsin are accused of plotting and attempting to kill their classmate “to prove they were worthy of Slenderman,” a creepypasta character. Geyser and Weier took the victim to the woods on May 31st, held her down and stabbed her multiple times as part of a “ritual” involving the fictional character. The victim survived and is recovering. A couple of weeks ago, Geyser was deemed “mentally incompetent” to stand trial and will receive psychiatric treatment. After which, she will stand trial as an adult for attempted murder.

Although this is a very unusual case, and chances are your kids won’t do/haven’t done something so heinous at such a young age, this should raise concern about how easily children can be influenced by the internet, TV or whatever other media. What should be just some meaningless horror story on the internet turned two young girls into murderous cult members and almost got another killed. How many other stories and folk tales out there could potentially drive someone to do such vile things?

Could situations like this be prevented if we take more time to teach kids right from wrong, fiction from reality? Maybe so, and hopefully it wouldn’t be too late for Geyser, who reportedly “sees and hears unicorns, the Harry Potter character Voldemort… communicates telepathically with Slender Man, and feared he would harm her family if she revealed too much about him.” Her obsession with fictional characters is clearly far beyond innocent fandom, which is why she’s undergoing psychiatric evaluation. Her mental state is questionable, but the forces that influence her so heavily are all popular media icons that ANYONE can tune into, and that’s a little bit disturbing.