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Wisconsin girls in "Slenderman" attack should be tried as juveniles
June 4, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
How insane is a system that tries 12-year-old children as adults?
Last week, two very sick little girls in Wisconsin allegedly stabbed a 12-year-old classmate multiple times with a knife in the woods during a slumber party. Luckily, their victim survived and her two assailants were arrested. Earlier this week, the two girls were charged as adults by a Waukesha County, Wis. judge.
Though the girls' names and photographs have been splashed all over the national and international media, I'm not going to repeat the mistakes of my colleagues by publicizing the names of juveniles. Their lawyers are, rightfully, likely to try to have the cases transferred to juvenile court. However, I will say that the news coverage has made it crystal clear that these 12-year-olds are still very much children and probably mentally ill children at that. The girls had an obsession with some Internet monster creation called "Slenderman" that preys on children. They had read horror stories about him on a website called creepypasta.com
According to the Daily Mail, the two middle school students believed that they were "proxies" of Slenderman and they had to kill their friend to prove their loyalty to him. After they killed the girl, they believed they would walk to Slenderman's supposed mansion in the woods of northern Wisconsin and live with him forever. One of the girls even took along a photo of her family so she wouldn't forget what they looked like while she was living with "Slenderman." If you are religiously inclined, it wouldn't be too hard to believe that the girls left themselves open to demonic possession.
Both girls have apparently been exposed to plenty of dark subject matter in their homes, too. The Daily Mail reports that the mother of one of the girls has posted numerous Goth-themed things online in the past few years such as pictures of skulls and graveyards. The girl's father is a death metal fan. The older brother of the other girl is a make-up artist for a local variety show called "Dead Man's Carnival." The photos of the girls show a pair of bespectacled nerds, kids it's easy to believe got so wrapped up in an online fantasy world that they were unable to completely distinguish myth from reality.
The crime they are alleged to have committed was horrific and the prosecutor alleges they have been planning the attack for months. The victim missed death by a millimeter. No one believes they should go unpunished and they will not. If they are tried as juveniles, the state can hold them until they are 25. They would miss all of the formative experiences of youth and young adulthood, like prom and high school graduation and college. But those 13 years in custody would also give them a chance to receive treatment for their very obvious mental illnesses and hopefully have a shot at some semblance of a normal life when they are released.
Children are not adults. Their brains are not fully developed; they do not the ability to control their impulses or to fully anticipate the future. They are more apt to lapse into fantasy than are adults. These particular little girls are not legally allowed to vote, to sign a contract, to work, to marry, to have sex, to join the military or fight in a war. Why on EARTH are prosecutors allowed to charge them and punish them like adults? If they are tried as adults, they could each receive a maximum of 65 years in prison, which would be cruel and unusual punishment under any rational legal system. Unfortunately, we do not have a rational legal system.
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