Suicide instructions grouped in children's cartoons on YouTube and YouTube Kids


A girl is watching a video on youtube.
Enlarge / A girl is watching a video on youtube.

Tips for committing suicide appear in YouTube's children's cartoons and the YouTube Kids app.

The sinister content was reported for the first time by doctors on the pedimony blog maintained by a pediatrician,, then reported by the Washington Post. An anonymous "mother doctor" first spotted the content while she watched cartoons with her son on YouTube Kids, which distracted him while he was bleeding from the nose. Four minutes and forty-five seconds after the start of a video, the cartoon cut out the image of a man walking on the screen simulating a wrist injury. "Do not forget, children, side to attract attention, long time to get results," he said before going out of the screen. The video then quickly returns to the cartoon.

Man giving children slits of wrist slit in the middle of a cartoon found on YouTube. "Src =" -at-12.27.24-PM-300x232.jpg "width =" 300 "height =" 232 "srcset =" 2019-02-25-at-12.27.24-PM-640x494.jpg 2x
Enlarge / Man giving children cracked wrist ends amid a cartoon found on YouTube.

"I am disturbed, I am saddened, I am disgusted," the doctor wrote. "But I'm also relieved to have been there to see this video with my own eyes, so I can take the appropriate steps to protect my family." These actions included removing the YouTube Kids app and its definitive ban on the house.

This video was removed from YouTube Kids after the doctor reported it to YouTube. However, parents have since discovered that several other drawings contain information on how to commit suicide, including the same video clip spliced. In a later blog post, pediatrician Free Hess, who runs Pedimom, reported another cartoon – this time on YouTube – in which the clip was spliced ​​after four minutes and forty-four seconds. This drawing was also deleted later, but Hess has previously recorded a recording, which you can view on the blog.

In a statement sent by email, a spokeswoman for YouTube told Ars:

We work to make YouTube Kids videos family-friendly and take the comments very seriously. We appreciate people who draw our attention to problematic content and allow anyone to post a video. Tagged videos are manually reviewed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and all videos that are not owned by the app are removed. We have also invested in new controls for parents, including the ability to select videos and channels in the app. We are constantly improving our systems and recognize that much remains to be done.

Nadine Kaslow, former president of the American Psychological Association and professor at the Emory University School of Medicine, told the To post It is not enough to remove the videos. "For the children who were exposed, they were exposed. There must be messages, that's why it's not right. Vulnerable children, perhaps too young to understand suicide, may have nightmares or try to hurt themselves out of curiosity, she warned.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among people aged 10-24, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, more young people survive suicide attempts than die. Each year, the country's emergency services treat self-inflicted injuries in 157,000 young people aged 10 to 24 years. Sixteen percent of high school students said they seriously considered committing suicide in a national survey.

Suicide tips concealed in otherwise benign cartoons are just the last horrible trick in the corruption of children's content on YouTube and YouTube Kids. For years, the video-sharing company has had to deal with a tedious-style effort to keep troubling and potentially scary content in children's videos. Videos have been found with adult content ranging from vulgar language to large scale shootings, alcohol consumption, fetishes, human trafficking stories and sexual situations. Many contain – and attract clicks with – popular cartoon characters, such as Elsa's Disney 2013 animated movie Frozen. This frightening phenomenon has been called Elsagate. Although YouTube has removed channels and videos, Hess says it's always easy to find a plethora of "horrible" content for children on YouTube Kids.

Last week, YouTube lost several advertisers, including Fortnite manufacturer Epic Games, Disney and Nestle, on a "wormhole in a soft core pedophile ring".

If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts or is in distress, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), who will put you in touch with a local crisis center.


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