Slender Man Stabbing: Is It Fair To Try Children As Adults?

On Wednesday, two Wisconsin girls convicted of stabbing their friend in an attempt to impress fictional character Slender Man were told they’d face adult charges. The decision, upheld in a Wisconsin appeals court, has sparked outrage among those who feel it’s unfair to try two kids, only 12 at the time of the crime, as adults.

AP reports that Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, both 14, will both be tried as adults after the 2nd District Appeals court said the girls wouldn’t get the correct psychological medical treatment if they stayed in the juvenile system. Since their arrests, both teens have been diagnosed with severe psychological issues. While Geyser was diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder and schizophrenia, Weier was diagnosed with schizotypy and a delusional disorder.

Yet, it’s because both girls have psychological issues that a number of people are against charging them as adults. For instance, a Rolling Stone opinion piece states that since the girls have mental issues, they both lacked control of their emotions and actions, even more so than the average preteen.

“In this case, the record suggests that, due to mental illness, the girls had significantly less control of their actions than the average preteen….. Most people with schizophrenia are not violent, but an undiagnosed Geyser believed she would get to go live at Slender Man’s mansion if she killed her friend, and that he’d harm her family if she didn’t go through with it.”

There’s also the issue of whether trying young teens as adults is reasonable. Wisconsin, a state that’s been constantly in the news lately after the Steven Avery case gained massive popularity, is the only state that allows children as young as 10 and 11 to be tried as adults. Is it fair to these girls to face adult charges simply because of the state they live in? Some feel it’s justified.

Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel reports that experts who evaluated the girls all agreed that they need serious psychological counseling, the type of counseling that a juvenile system apparently can’t provide them. Geyser’s attorney, Anthony Cotton, stated that Wisconsin simply doesn’t know how to handle such a unique case.

“It’s not a lack of resources. The system just isn’t designed to handle a case like this. It’s the unique nature of the case.”

On the other hand, information obtained about Geyser while in juvenile detention and while undergoing treatment at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute convinced the courts that she has issues only an adult prison can deal with. Although she received mental health treatment for two years, Geyser still believes that Slender Man exists and that he’s prone to tell her to commit violent crimes. Prosecutors stated that in an adult prison, Geyser could be monitored more thoroughly and for a longer period of time.

A 2014 photo of police and Firefighters rushing in to rescue 12-year-old girl, stabbed 19 times by classmates Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser [Photo by AP /Abe Van Dyke]

They also argued that schizophrenia can’t be cured, only managed, and keeping her in the juvenile system means she can be released by her 18th birthday, whereas an adult prison would mean a much longer sentence. However, the two girls were lumped together to face adult charges, even after Weier quickly realized that Slender Man was indeed a fictional character who didn’t control her thoughts.

Regardless of opinions, the court still upholds its decision, also stating that given how heinous the crime was (the 12-year-old victim was stabbed 19 times), juvenile court wouldn’t be the appropriate option. If convicted, the girls who stabbed a classmate for Slender Man could face life in prison.

[Photo by Waukesha Freeman, Charles Auer, Pool/AP Images]