Psychologist urges parents ensure kids differ fantasy, reality - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Psychologist urges parents to ensure kids differ fantasy, reality

2 girls who stabbed another child repeatedly said they were trying to win favor with mythical character Slender Man. (Source: Flickr/mdl70) 2 girls who stabbed another child repeatedly said they were trying to win favor with mythical character Slender Man. (Source: Flickr/mdl70)

It's the story every parent is talking about this week – a story involving a supernatural tale and children who committed a serious crime.

Two 12-year-old girls in Milwaukee face charges for stabbing their so-called friend, also 12, 19 times and leaving her for dead.

Police said the crime was connected to an online character called Slender Man, the subject of horror stories, YouTube videos, and games. The girls admitted to police they wanted to earn his favor by killing.

The child who was the focus of their attack survived. The incident is yet another eye-opener for parents to take more involvement and learn about what their kids are into.

The faceless figure in a dark suit known as Slender Man was created in 2009, in an online forum for peole to create supernatural images. Since his debut, he has popped up in horror games and web stories.

Stories which adhere to the Slender Man mythos or structure portray Slender Man as stalking and taking children. From the vanishing of the children, storywriters are left to their own interpretation as to what happens to the children next.

The creator of Slender Man said the character does not urge readers to kill in order to earn his favor, as was claimed by the girls in Wisconsin.

A similar situation arose with the popular video game series Grand Theft Auto, where some people began playing out violent scenarios in real life.

Child psychologist Kenneth Sullivan said people, even children, who are inclined to do awful things, sometimes look for inspiration; therefore it is up to parents to start talking and asking their children if they know the difference between fantasy and reality.

"As parents, we need to stay on top of whatever our kid is doing, and to some extent, knowing their fantasies," said Sullivan. "There needs to be some discussion into how real it is and how much is just a fantasy, and to make that clear distinction."

Sullivan said it is hard enough to keep bad things away from children, but sometimes there is violence in the home. If they do not understand the difference between what is real and fake, do not give them access.

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