YouTube videos aimed at kids discovered to include self-harm tips

Faith Castro
February 26, 2019

This is a serious problem and kids being exposed to such vile content raises concerns and questions over YouTube's role in identifying and removing such content. YouTube is embroiled in a long battle with problematic content on its video-sharing platform, ranging from removing hateful and violent content, child sexual exploitation and more, but videos encouraging suicide among kids crosses a line.

One on YouTube shows a man popping into the frame.

A United States mom had the shock of her life when she was alerted about sinister videos on YouTube, containing suicide instructions for kids.

Hess told WFTX she's trying to warn other parents about such videos.

Free Hess said the first time she saw such a video was back in July when another mom alerted her to it after she and her son were watching cartoon videos on YouTube Kids.

Dr Free Hess, a paediatrician and mother, had learnt about the chilling videos over the summer when another mum spotted one on YouTube Kids. "We are always working to improve our systems and to remove violative content more quickly, which is why we report our progress in a quarterly report and give users a dashboard showing the status of videos they've flagged to us". "We also need to fight to have the developers of social media platforms held responsible when they do not assure that age restrictions are followed and when they do not remove inappropriate and/or unsafe material when reported".

YouTube boasts that YouTube Kids contains a number of safety-minded features, including the ability for parents to handpick which videos their children are able to watch, as well as human and automatic filters to keep out content deemed not to be family-friendly.

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Nadine Kaslow, a past president of the American Psychological Association, told The Post that it is a "tragic" situation in which "trolls are targeting kids and encouraging kids to kill themselves". That way they can report inappropriate content to social media platforms, so it can be pulled.

"In this next cartoon a young girl commits suicide with a knife after her father dies and her boyfriend breaks up with her", Hess said of another.

"As creepy as she looks, "Momo" isn't going to crawl out of your child's phone and kill them", the Police Service of Northern Ireland wrote on Facebook.

Enlarge / Man giving kids wrist-slitting tips in the middle of a cartoon found on YouTube. "I will continue to get this kind of information out to parents as I become aware of it", she noted at the end of the blog. "There needs to be messaging - this is why it's not OK".

The children are then encouraged to self-harm before the ultimate post tells them to take their own lives.

'Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death in individuals between the ages of 10 and 34 and the numbers of children exhibiting some form of self-harm is growing rapidly.

For support in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255.

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