Mum In US Alerts Parents After Finding Cartoons On YouTube That Contain Suicide Tutorials

Other videos also depict school shootings and human trafficking, said US paediatrician Dr Free Hess.

Dr Free Hess, a mother and paediatrician in Florida, US, recently exposed a terrifying practice of suicide tutorials being edited into children's cartoon videos on YouTube

A screenshot from the video that has since been taken down.

Image via PediMom.com/BuzzFeed News

Dr Hess told CNN that she first became aware of such a video in July last year, after another mother alerted her of it.

That mother had been watching cartoon videos with her son on YouTube Kids, the supposedly child-friendly version of the video viewing platform.

A few minutes into the video, a man in sunglasses appeared and began to explain to the viewer how to slit their wrists. 

Although YouTube removed the video a week after Dr Hess and other parents flagged it, the video has since resurfaced on the platform again earlier this month.

Tutorials on how to commit suicide also weren't the only things she found on YouTube Kids.

Dr Free Hess is a paediatrician who also blogs about keeping children safe online.

Image via Instagram @thepedimom

When Dr Hess started delving deeper, she found videos on sexual exploitation and abuse, human trafficking, gun violence, and domestic violence.

She writes about these findings on her blog, PediMom.com.

These harmful videos pass off as 'innocent' because they come in the disguise of famous child-safe games, like 'Minecraft' or 'Splatoon'.

A 'Minecraft' video depicting a school shooting was uploaded to a channel called "TellBite".

Image via PediMom.com/BuzzFeed News

In response to the discovery, YouTube spokesman Andrea Faville said the platform relies on both user-flagging and smart detection technology to remove such videos

In a written statement to The Washington Post, Faville said the company works to ensure the platform is "not used to encourage dangerous behaviour" and that it has "strict policies that prohibit videos which promote self-harm".

"Every quarter, we remove millions of videos and channels that violate our policies, and we remove the majority of these videos before they have any views," added Faville.

One video recorded by Dr Hess showed an abused girl being sold off. The video was uploaded to a channel called "Yasuke".

Image via PediMom.com

In the CNN report, YouTube also said it was investing in new controls for parents within YouTube Kids, which would include the ability to handpick videos and channels in the app.

As a parent or concerned adult, here is what you should do if you find problematic videos on YouTube or YouTube Kids

Image via SAYS

To a report a video:
1) Tap or click on the three-dot ("...") button under a video,
2) Look for the "Report" option, which has a flag next to it,
3) Select the type of violation. 

According to YouTube, flagged videos are manually reviewed 24/7 and it will be removed if it "doesn't belong in the app", reported BuzzFeed News.

Suicide is never the option.

If you or anyone you know may be at risk of suicide, please call these hotlines:

1. ALL WOMEN'S ACTION SOCIETY (AWAM) - TELENITA
Address: 85, Jalan 21/1, Sea Park, 46300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Contact: +603-7877 0224 | Website

2. BEFRIENDERS 
Address: 95 Jalan Templer, 46000, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Contact: +603-7956 8144 | +603-7956 8145 | [email protected] | Website

3. DBKL TELECOUNSELLING
Address: Tingkat 1, Menara DBKL, Jalan Raja Laut 50350 Kuala Lumpur.
Contact: 1800-88-2600 | 03-26179905

4. TALIAN NUR
Contact: 15999 | [email protected]

5. WOMEN'S AID ORGANISATION (WAO)
Contact: +03-7956 3488 |[email protected] | Website

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