Slender Man

slender_man_featured_post

Type of Resource

Guidance

Publication Date

June 20, 2023

Topic/s

Harmful or inappropriate content  
We’ve received recent reports of children as young as six discussing an online horror character called ‘Slender Man’. Our online safety experts have taken a deeper look at Slender Man to address any risks or red flags, as well as our top tips for parents, carers, and safeguarding professionals.

What is Slender Man?

Slender Man was created in 2009 by artist Eric Knudsen as a challenge to create a paranormal image. It then became part of a ‘creepypasta’, a widely shared internet horror story. Slender Man is depicted as a supernaturally thin, tall, faceless man wearing a black suit. The story rose in online popularity over the last decade and has become a widespread urban myth.

By LuxAmber – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Urban myth: A story or statement that is not true but is often repeated and believed by many to be true.

– Cambridge Dictionary

While there are multiple interpretations, the reoccurring narrative is that Slender Man haunts abandoned places (such as buildings, playgrounds, and forests) and abducts unsuspecting humans – especially children. There have been multiple horror video games and films made using his image. He is a popular horror character on Roblox, YouTube, and TikTok (with over 1.2 billion views on the hashtag #Slenderman).

What are the risks?

Slender Man is not a current hoax or challenge. He is a fictional creation, like Huggy Wuggy, Jeff the Killer, Siren Head, and numerous others specifically created to frighten. These characters have an online life that is often made up of rumours and tall tales which resurface every few years for new generations.

As Slender Man is a popular character, it is extremely easy to find related content on Google, YouTube, and most online platforms – even with parental controls switched on. This content can be disturbing if a child is not expecting it or if they are more vulnerable to this genre.  There are multiple risks that may arise from children and young people being exposed to frightening content before they are prepared.

Much of the online content surrounding Slender Man could be considered disturbing or unsettling, especially for younger children. There are popular investigative videos on YouTube that discuss a violent incident tied to Slender Man from 2014 that are available even with Restricted Mode switched on. This story has been heavily sensationalised by media outlets.

Children and young people are still growing and learning. They may not be at a level of emotional maturity that would be able to process frightening content, even if they view it intentionally. They may also struggle to differentiate between fact and fiction.
Everyone has the ‘thing that goes bump in the night.’ If children decide to look up Slender Man online, he could easily become a Bogeyman-like character. This could cause children to lose focus or sleep and could interrupt family sleep patterns.
The manipulation of everyday places (i.e. playgrounds, forests) into haunting grounds for horror characters threatens the sense of security a child feels. They may suddenly be terrified of something that had never been a worry before.

Red flags to look out for

Every child is different. Some may genuinely enjoy the horror genre and not struggle with any lasting feelings of fear or panic in response. Slender Man has even become a popular Halloween costume choice for children. However, if a child is worried or anxious after learning about a horror character, they may:

If the child in your care comes across something scary or disturbing online, encourage them to:

Our Top Tips for helping the child or young person in your care

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