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Waukesha Stabbing With Link To Online Fictional Character Causes National Stir

Girls Tell Police They Stabbed Friend To Prove 'Slenderman' Was Real

Above, someone dressed as the fictional character "Slenderman" at an anime convention. Photo: IQ Remix (CC-BY).

Experts and parents across the country are weighing in on the role a horror fiction website may have played in the stabbing of a 12-year-old girl in Waukesha last Saturday.

The two girls accused of the crime told police they stabbed their friend because they believed that could prove the fictional villain Slenderman was real.

When Lisa Suhay, a Christian Science Monitor columnist heard about the stabbing, she became worried because she knew her 10-year-old son had been spending time on Creepypasta, an Internet forum where users share fictional stories about Slenderman. She found posts on the site that encouraged children not to tell their parents about this villain’s power to control their thoughts.

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“I had to go through the website with my kid each and every time a new one popped up, and I had to address it in a calm logical (way), said Suhay. ‘Here we are in the day light, now let’s look at these pictures – doesn’t it look like this is just a guy in a costume?’”

That’s the kind of conversation Joanne Cantor says parents should be having with their children about any kind of violent or dark website they may be frequenting. Cantor, a University of Wisconsin-Madison emeritus professor, has been researching the impact of media violence on children for more than three decades. Shed said pre-teens are at tipping point in their lives where they’re still testing the line between fantasy and reality.

“And so they may be in the sweet spot for having overblown reactions to this kind of supernatural, unreal, but very dark fantasy,” said Cantor.

Cantor said the Waukesha stabbing is both a rare and extreme example of how children may react to such websites. She said it’s a wake-up call to parents to communicate regularly with their children about where they’re spending their online time.

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