Rick Sanchez: Child Attacks Shouldn’t Be Just Another Story

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This week, something crazy happened in Wisconsin. Hearing the story, I was dismayed and saddened. Oddly enough though, I wasn’t surprised. And I feel horrible about that. Have I become that callous? Have we all? It seems the answer is yes on both counts.

They say news organizations rarely pass on stories that bleed. “If it bleeds, it leads,” is how the saying goes. Apparently, not anymore, not when it comes to kids who kill or become violent.

It happens again and again. And we seem to be getting used to it. And you know what? That may be the scariest part of all.

— Rick Sanchez

In Waukesha, Wisconsin this week, two 12-year-old girls lured a friend into the woods and stabbed her 19 times as a “sacrifice” to Slenderman. Let me stop here and address your obvious question. Sacrifice to what? Who is Slenderman? The answer doesn’t matter. Explaining an Internet fictional character to try and make sense of this attack is like trying to understand why someone would kill blonde coeds for not being attracted to him. Wait, wasn’t that last week’s story? Yes, and that’s the point.

It’s become commonplace to hear these stories. Here’s this week’s, in case you didn’t hear it anywhere else. Police and 911 recordings now reveal that a 12-year-old girl was found in the woods. She was having trouble breathing and the blood that covered her entire body had begun to dry. When a man riding a bicycle found her, he called 911 and described the horror he had come up upon.

"She said she could take shallow breaths. She's alert," said Greg Feinberg. The girl somehow was able to drag herself to a grassy area near a dead-end road. She had been left to die, but somehow survived. Her alleged attackers stabbed her in the legs and abdomen 19 times, taking turns. When the 12-year-old alleged assailants were taken into custody, they told police that they did it to please a fictitious Internet character.

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Here’s the question that screams to be asked: Why isn’t this the lead story in every newscast? Why isn’t it on the front page of every newspaper? It would have been 30 years ago. Why not now?

In fact, I expect that by next week this horrible stabbing will be relegated to the back pages of our nation’s newspapers while barely getting any space at all in national broadcasts. So it is with the case of mass killer Elliott Rodger. Yes, that’s how soon we move on these days. Oh, it might get coverage if there’s a new piece of video or a new sensational interview to be found. But is anybody asking why?

It does seem we used to be different regarding our collective interest on the subject of our children in trouble. Remember Jessica McClure – “Baby Jessica?” In October of 1987, she fell down a well and it seemed every TV station in America went “wall-to-wall” with its coverage. The non-stop coverage lasted 58 hours. ABC had her parents on, and followed it up with a TV movie in 1989. Specials marked anniversaries and follow-ups, the “where is she now” pieces we’ve come to know. She was a little girl who was rescued from a well. Rescued from a well. That’s right, she was OK, she didn’t die, she didn’t kill anybody, she was just a little girl who was stuck in (for lack of a better word) a hole in the ground. We couldn’t get enough.

As sad as it is to say, today kids killing each other is not that unusual. It’s shocking, but maybe not shocking enough. We checked on Google today and found the Wisconsin child stabbing had been mentioned in fewer than 100 instances. By comparison, the name Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl generated more than 5,100 mentions. Has callousness set in? And why is it happening?

The answer is quite clear! More and more kids are growing up attached at the hip to their video game consoles, cellular phones, laptops, iPads, TV’s and movies. Parents hardly stand a chance competing with that type of hi-tech influence.

More and more kids are being diagnosed with mental illness, from attention deficiencies to depression. And more and more of them are being treated with drugs that a decade ago would have seemed inconceivable to prescribe. The numbers are staggering.

And yes, more and more kids are resorting to unspeakable, unthinkable and unexplainable violence. It is the type of violence that only Stephen King could conjure in one of his scariest of screenplays.

It happens again and again. And we seem to be getting used to it. And you know what? That may be the scariest part of all.