“Slenderman” Stabbing Brings Juvenile Law into Focus

A young Wisconsin girl was recently stabbed repeatedly by her two twelve-year-old friends, hoping to garner the favor of a fictitious character, Slenderman, they had learned about at a horror site and believed to be real. Upon apprehending the two girls, officials were forced to charge them as adults. All over the country, laws are in place that were intended to help curtail gang related violence but often end up having to be applied to non-gang cases.

Experts in juvenile crime say many child offenders present no lasting danger to society. In fact, they indicate that children who grow to repetitively engage in criminal acts are the exception to the rule, but they do admit that it is difficult to determine if any individual case is that exception.

Wisconsin is amongst the toughest states in prosecuting children as adults. A law enacted in 1995 requires adult charges to be filed for cases of homicide or homicidal attempt if the defendant is ten years of age or older. Over half of American states have laws that are similar, though the ages specified vary with none younger than thirteen.

The “Slenderman” case, where the girls planned the attack for months, has thrown these laws into the public scrutiny and has highlighted the difficulty in adjudicating these matters.