What Every Parent Should Take Away From the Brutal 12-Year-Old Stabbing

I woke up this morning and carried on with my usual routine. First and foremost, I checked on my toddler boy and 5-month-old girl. They slept peacefully, like angels. So perfect. So innocent. I then went online and began reading the news headlines. Almost instantly it screamed out at me: Two Girls Brutally Stab Friend 19 Times in Planned Attack.

Photo of accused girls. Photo taken by Abe Van Dyke from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

I came to find out that yesterday two Waukesha, Wisconsin girls were charged in court as adults for attempted first-degree intentional homicide. Both stabbed their victim, their “friend,” 19 times.Their motive was to kill her so that they could become “proxies” of Slender Man, a fictional character that originated as a meme created by Something Awful user Eric Knudsen after “Victor Surge” created the character. The girls’ plan was to kill her and then flee to live with Slender Man in his mansion in the Nicolet National Forest.

“Many people do not believe Slender Man is real,” one of the girls said, according to the Washington Post. “[We] wanted to prove the skeptics wrong.” The Washington Post goes on to report: He teleported and read their minds, they claimed. He watched them and threatened to kill their families. “They hoped [their friend] would die,” Ellen Gabler wrote in the Journal-Sentinel, “and they would see Slender and know he existed.”

How did they do it? They sure didn’t hide it. It is reported that the suspects had planned the attack for several months. They first planned to duct tape her mouth in the middle of the night and stab her in the neck, pull a sheet over her head and take off. Then they thought it would be cleaner to do it in the bathroom at a nearby park where there would be a drain for the blood to go.

On Friday night, they asked their victim over for a sleepover. The next day they went to the park and into the bathroom. One of the girls broke down when it came time to restrain her, so the other suggested they go for a walk in the woods and play a game of hide and seek. This is when the horror began.

Nineteen times they stabbed her with a kitchen knife. According to the criminal complaint, one girl held her down while the other stabbed her in the torso, legs and arms. The victim screamed so they backed off in fear she would alert someone. She then stumbled, attempting to walk to the street, unable to speak or see. The girls pulled her back and convinced her to lie down so she would bleed less. That’s where they left her to die.

Thankfully, the poor girl managed to crawl out of the woods where she caught the eye of a passing bicyclist who called for help. She was taken to a nearby hospital where she underwent surgery. Doctors said she came within a single millimeter of dying. That’s how close the blades came to her heart. She is still in the hospital in stable condition.

After reading about this story, I am sick. I am SO sick. How could two small town girls do this to another human being? As parents, how do you even protect your child from this type of tragedy? Were there any signs? Maybe, maybe not. In either case I think tragedies like this are good reminders for us as parents to take a closer look into our own homes and make sure we are doing everything in our power to prevent something like this from happening in our own backyards.

1. Talk to your children. It is clear from the reports that this “friendship” was far from the norm and I would be willing to bet one or both of the attempted murderers carried the personality traits similar to that of your average bully. In this particular case, two of the girls involved could have been influenced by the third – the victim and one of the convicted. The victim clearly was not close enough to the others to realize her life was at risk. And were both of the accused girls equally invested in committing murder? My bet is probably not. There is a fine line between leader and bully and it’s so important to help your children differentiate between the two. Talk to your children regularly about their friends and what they did together on a daily basis. Use follow up questions if you suspect something might be off.

2. Get to know their friends personally. You may think your child is the best kid in the world, but there is a reason for the saying “You are who you hang out with”. Preteens are extremely impressionable. Many will do what it takes to get the friends they dream of, including sacrifice their own rights. If you suspect that one of their friends might be a bully or is being bullied, address the issue openly with your child and consider seeking professional help to aid you in getting your child out of any potentially dangerous (mentally or physically) situation before it spins out of control.

3. Restrict and monitor your child’s internet usage. I get it. Privacy, right? This one will probably trigger a great deal of lashback but I don’t care. You know why? Because the internet is an endless galaxy of tools, information, and much, much horror. It can be so cruel and unnecessary for a child. Remember the amount of rated X and generally shady information that was at your fingertips as a kid? Right, probably because it wasn’t unless you stumbled across a discarded porno mag. It didn’t exist in this form when we were young. Seriously consider heightening the security on your devices (computers and phones) to block certain websites from your child.  Talk to your children about their internet usage and if you suspect anything particularly unusual,  check their search history now and then to make sure they are not getting into something that could really hurt them. Whether it’s sites like the one these girls frequented, porn sites, or sites flooded with child molesters, it doesn’t take much for things to spin out of control.

4. Teach your child to trust his/her instinct. I actually wrote about this in a previous post. It is thought by many that people are born with a sixth sense - the sense of intuition. The problem is that we are often afraid to listen to it. It takes time to learn and understand. Help them to listen to that voice early on and know what situations are dangerous, be it a dark parking lot, an elevator, or even a friend’s house (well, a friend you’re not so sure about). Share this story with your older children. Ask them if they can see how things could have been different. Walk them through what the victim should have looked out for.

5. Hold off on soccer and dance. Okay, there is no need to hold off on these activities, but please consider making a regular self defense class part of their routine. An equal priority. Heck, do it with them. We continue to read about cases of rape, robbery and murder. While it’s difficult to prevent these things, there are steps you can take to lessen your odds of the worst case scenario. Self defense classes, including martial arts, will teach you how to approach (or not) situations and how to act when things begin to turn on you. If nothing else, classes like these can give them confidence.

Violence will always exist – including violence perpetrated by young people. But we as parents can take steps to protect our kids from a culture that glorifies it.

Related: Three Words That Could Save Your Daughter’s Life

2 thoughts on “What Every Parent Should Take Away From the Brutal 12-Year-Old Stabbing

  1. The son of a friend of mine (who I also used to nanny for) used to idolize this character too. I had no idea where he had heard about this character (as I had no idea who he was). I did a wikipedia search one day and read horrible things about The Slender man being a violent but silent character who would manipulate and harm children. I still don’t know how her young son (only 6 at the time) knew about the character but I quickly alerted her that her son’s obsession with such a negative character needed to be dealt with. Kids are so easily influenced but I am pretty sure even the creators of this character would agree it was intended as entertainment not suitable for children. Parents need to mindful of what their children are watching and exposed to (even at friend’s houses)

    • I can’t even imagine! That is waaaayyyy to young for that kind of thing. It was originally the purview of grownups and teens. Sad that such very scary stories have somehow made it to very young kids!

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