Is web behind attacks?

Is web behind attacks?

There have been a series of violent attacks recently involving guns and knives. Both the United States and Taiwan have suffered horrific incidents of late.

One of these particularly struck me. It was the chilling case in Waukesha in the US state of Wisconsin, where two 12-year-old girls stabbed their "best friend" 19 times. Fortunately, the "best friend" survived and is now in a stable condition. But what caused the girls, who are not even allowed to watch PG-13 movies, to act so violently?

These girls claimed to have planned this attack for months, so they could become "proxies" of Slenderman. Slenderman is a horror character created on an online forum. The two girls had visited the online horror-sharing community Creepypasta, and were immediately intrigued by the character.

Slenderman is a black and white faceless figure that appears in the background of photos. It is said that those who see him will become crazy, lose their memory and die.

This case raises many issues. For one, should younger children have the freedom to surf the web without being supervised by adults? People are becoming concerned about the negative influence online forums can have on youngsters.

Similarly, the case in Taiwan where a young adult stabbed four people to death on the subway was blamed on the attacker playing violent computer games.

For many years, people have speculated that violent TV shows, games or internet sites affect the behaviour of youngsters.

It is easy to point to these recent attacks and say there is a clear link. But in reality, there is no solid evidence. There needs to be more research on the issue.

Despite all this, the most frightening and alarming fact is the killers' lack of remorse. When the killers' parents were asked about what happened, they seemed to be ignorant of their children's actions online.

This raises another issue - the parenting of children. Teens are continuously exposed to violent material these days. There perhaps needs to be more care taken in checking what children are looking at online.

This is especially the case during children's younger years, where they are more easily persuaded and lack the ability to distinguish right from wrong. With a little more care, hopefully we can avoid any more violent attacks happening in the future.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Is web behind attacks?

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