OCALA, Fla. — A Florida mom and pediatrician is sounding alarms after she and other parents discovered videos containing suicide instructions on YouTube and its video app for children, YouTube Kids.
According to CNN, Dr. Free Hess of Ocala said she found out about the dangerous videos last year.
"Seven months ago, a concerned mother alerted me to a cartoon on YouTube Kids that had a clip of a man spliced in showing how to properly slit their wrists," Hess wrote Feb. 16 on her parenting blog, PediMom.com. "She noticed it while sitting with her young child trying to stop his nosebleed."
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Hess said she and other parents reported the clip, which YouTube Kids removed a week later.
"But there are more," Hess wrote in the blog post. "Just yesterday I was alerted to yet ANOTHER cartoon with the same clip spliced in at 4.44. This time the cartoon is on YouTube, not YouTube Kids."
The second video, which had comments dating back eight months, has since been removed, Hess wrote.
In a follow-up blog post dated Feb. 22, Hess said she found more examples of offensive content in children's videos.
"I wish I could say that they are isolated incidents, but unfortunately I cannot," she wrote. "My research has led me into a horrifying world where people create cartoons glorifying dangerous topics and scenarios such self-harm, suicide, sexual exploitation, trafficking, domestic violence, sexual abuse and gun violence, which includes a simulated school shooting. All of these videos were found on YouTube Kids, a platform that advertises itself to be a safe place for children 8 years old and under."
In a statement, YouTube told CNN that it "appreciate[s] people drawing problematic content to our attention" and pointed out that anyone can flag videos.
"Flagged videos are manually reviewed 24/7, and any videos that don't belong in the app are removed," the statement said.
The company also said it has "been investing in new controls for parents," CNN reported.