“Beware The Slenderman”: An Opening Eye to Our Fractured Justice System

The legend of Slender Man. The one who befriends all and is portrayed as a hero with no face.

The legend of Slender Man. The one who befriends all and is portrayed as a hero with no face.

Janae Polk , Editor and Chief

In a recent case known as the “Slender Man Stabbing,” 12-year-old Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser brutally stabbed their friend, Payton Leutner. Leutner was left for dead by the two and crawled her way to the end of the road with multiple stab wounds. While being hastily treated, she was on the brink of death but made a miraculous recovery.

The documentary Beware The Slenderman, caused many questions to arise on how two innocent children could be capable of such a repulsive crime. The blame was directed initially towards the internet, specifically Creepypastas, a website devoted to posting horror stories about fictional characters. Subsequently, the blame focused briefly on the parents’ parenting skills. 

Anyone who has watched the documentary already knows that Anissa and Morgan were both tested for any possible signs of mental disorder. Through interrogation, it was found that Morgan Geyser, the stabber, was schizophrenic, as was Anissa Weier.

Throughout the process of seeking the motive of the perpetrators, the main question stood clear as day: Should children be tried as adults or juveniles? I had a difficult time trying to wrap my head around the question, I was mentally torn between strict law and moral emotion.

Following the case, both girls were tried as adults, they weren’t responsible for their actions due to their claim of mental insanity.

Not to delegitimize or negate the claimed mental illnesses of Anissa and Morgan, but their sentencing causes me the right for me or anyone else seeking juvenile justice to question the legitimacy and civility of our justice systems.

If those who believed it was immoral and cruel to try the two as adults, then they, along with the justice system, should channel the same energy towards the disparities that negatively mark the lives of minority youth.

In a country where systematic oppression is seen as a figment of imagination rather than an actual issue, it isn’t shocking to see that minority youth are sentenced unjustly in the adult system for violent crimes.

Deepti Reim, the 12th grade English teacher at Da Vinci Communications, created a project in which her students were given the opportunity to combat the inequities of the juvenile justice system.

“I actually was given the choice of several topics to teach for this particular unit because it’s part of the EWRC curriculum, but I had previously worked on juvenile justice issues, and I also knew that it would be of high interest to students because you’re talking about teenagers who are in trouble. I believe that some of the policies in our country are not just towards juveniles,” Reim commented.

There have been countless times where minorities have been disproportionately set in the prison system for something so minuscule as a tiny ounce of marijuana. Minority youth is in trouble and the root of their trouble isn’t being properly addressed by those who are supposed to protect them.

Take Cyntoia Brown, a 16-year-old Black girl who was forced into prostitution and shot a man in fear for her life. She was tried as an adult and sent to prison for life for the simple act of self-defense. Her life was a constant struggle, but she received no assistance; therefore, her vulnerability was exposed to the worst predator of the world: bondage.

Being that she was a minority, it already developed the case. Race played a huge defining factor in the sentencing of Brown’s case; she was a Black girl, young and abandoned, who slept with a grown man and shot him. Without any regards, she was given a ludicrous amount of prison time. No sympathy was given to her despite her former background of being repeatedly raped and beaten.

I am fully aware that Anissa and Morgan were tried as adults but their sentence is most comforting. In any case, if the perpetrators were those of minority background, their mental illness wouldn’t be an illness, it would be referred to as  “insanity” or “craziness” or simply “savagery.”

The main message here is making the reality more transparent because clearly, the justice system can’t seem to assess when minorities when are in true need of help than an over-life expectancy prison sentence.