A Florida mom who discovered a YouTube video that provided suicide tips is warning other parents to be aware of the dangers lurking online and hidden in videos geared toward kids.
CBS News reports that Dr. Free Hess posted the video on her blog, PediMom, after recently viewing the disturbing contents. The video, which provided self-harm tips in spliced clips in between a video game, remained on the site for over eight months, according to Hess, who’s a mother and a pediatrician.
“Looking at the comments, it had been up for a while, and people had even reported it eight months prior,” Hess told the outlet.
Hess reported the video, and noted on her blog that YouTube took it down shortly after her complaint. However, the same video appeared on YouTube Kids last year, an app supposedly designed to “make it safer and simpler for kids to explore the world through online video.”
The man featured in the video is YouTube user FilthyFrank, whose real name is George Miller. The video instructs kids on how to slit their wrists, in clips spliced into Splatoon, a well-known Nintendo game that millions of children play. FilthyFrank currently has over 6 million subscribers on the channel.
“Remember kids, sideways for attention, longways for results,” the man says in the video. “End it.”
CrimeOnline spoke with a teen who said they learned about “FilthyFrank” over seven years ago, when they were 10 years old. The teen claimed that other children use FilthyFrank’s video clips in their own videos because they enjoy his “shock jock humor.”
“I don’t really like the offensive humor at all,” the teen said. “I think that’s disgusting. It gets even more offensive than South Park. Joking about suicide and self harm, racial stereotypes, those things shouldn’t be a joke at all.”
Since many of Miller’s videos have been edited and spliced by others, there’s no solid evidence that Miller himself made the harmful suicide clip.
Hess began digging for more videos and found seven additional and equally-disturbing videos on YouTube Kids. The videos contained serious issues such as self-harm, domestic violence, sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, and a Minecraft video with a simulated school shooting.
“They’re awful. Absolutely awful,” Hess told CBS.
Hess, who said she’s seen an alarming number of children in the emergency room where she works after they attempted suicide, will continue to report videos as she comes across them. Some videos have been successfully removed while others are still on the site.
“I had to stop, but I could have kept going. Once you start looking into it, things get darker and weirder. I don’t understand how it’s not getting caught.”
The Washington Post reports that Andrea Faville, a spokesperson for YouTube, said that “millions of videos and channels” are removed each quarter and YouTube is “always working to improve our systems and to remove violative content more quickly.”
TLDR: Disabled comments on tens of millions of videos. Terminated over 400 channels. Reported illegal comments to law enforcement. pic.twitter.com/zFHFfkX9FD
— Philip DeFranco (@PhillyD) February 21, 2019
Meanwhile, the former president of the American Psychological Association, Nadine Kaslow, said that the videos can cause vulnerable children to have nightmares while possibly triggering past memories. She also claimed can also encourage children to kill themselves when they are too young to understand the consequences.
Further, since the videos don’t always get removed immediately, Kaslow suggested that parents and/or caregivers should actively talk to their children about the dangers of self-harm and suicide.
“I don’t think you can just take them down,” Kaslow told The Post. “For children who have been exposed, they’ve been exposed. There needs to be messaging — this is why it’s not okay.”
The story continues to develop. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
[Feature Photo: Pixabay]