One mom’s disturbing Facebook post is going viral as a reminder to parents that they must be forever diligent in monitoring their children’s behavior online.
Meridy Leeper struggled with her decision to share her 7-year-old daughter’s experience with a particular YouTube video, but ultimately chose to warn other parents.
This is an exceptionally hard thing for me to post. I’ve thought long and hard about this. I’ve decided it’s way too important not to bring awareness to other parents. This is not up for criticism. I only want to let all parents know what to watch for….
Leeper writes how seemingly innocuous so-called “children-friendly” platforms and videos can contain damaging messages urging self-harm and suicide.
Kids youtube, roblox, fortnight… no matter how much you think you are monitoring your child.. notifications to what your child is watching. It doesn’t matter. My 7 year old child was taught how to attempt suicide by kids youtube and these games.
She shared a photo of a drawing her 7-year-old daughter had made at school. It shows a frowning person (a girl, judging by the skirt) hanging with a noose around her neck.
Leeper goes on to explain that the drawing isn’t an expression of neglect or abuse on her daughter’s part— Rather, the girl had been watching videos in which YouTubers urged her to kill herself, and even showed her how to go about it.
She has expressed that she doesn’t feel neglected or unloved. Instead, she was constantly told to ‘go kill yourself’ by other gamers, by kids youtube. Shown HOW to.
She explains how her daughter had an anxiety attack the night before she drew the noose picture.
Sunday night, she had a full blown anxiety attack. Which I held her and sang to her while she got through it. Monday, she drew this in school. This is a VERY real danger!
I NEVER thought I would find myself helping my SEVEN YEAR OLD CHILD through an anxiety attack. PLEASE, keep your children away from these things.
And warns other parents about the dangers latent in online content that at first glance, appears child-friendly.
I’m just so glad my child was able to express her feelings before she actually tried to harm herself. I never thought something as ‘innocent’ as kids youtube would have these subliminal messages. Again, I’m only sharing our experience in the hopes to prevent another child going through this.
This is an exceptionally hard thing for me to post. I've thought long and hard about this. I've decided it's way too…
Leeper’s Facebook post racked up over 91,000 comments, 139,000 reactions, and 326,000 shares less than 9 days’ time. After concerned parents pleaded with her, Leeper shared the video in question.
“This is the very
that gave her the idea of hanging herself,” she wrote in a subsequent post last Friday, adding how the video “starts out very cutsie and catchy…”
As Leeper pointed out, the video features scenes involving an aggressive use of a butcher knife, followed by a hanging suicide scene.
While many took to the comments section on both Leeper’s Facebook post and the video on YouTube, others pointed out that there is a clear warning at the start of the video, and that it is ultimately the parents’ responsibility to monitor their children’s online activity.
“This video contains references (of) suicide, self harm, and domestic abuse, if this kind of thing makes you uncomfortable, please don’t watch this video. Viewer discretion is advised,” reads the warning.
According to Dr. Paul Crosby, chief medical officer at the Lindner Center for Hope in Mason and a child psychiatrist, young children are capable of understanding suicide and the finality of death.
“An 8-year-old can understand the finality of death, the irreversibility of death, even though those are kind of the two main features that go along with what you’d consider to be more of an adult view,” he said to Cincinnati.com.
A troubling fact, especially when we consider that the suicide rate for children age 10 to 14 doubled from 2007 to 2014, overtaking car accidents as a cause of death in that age group, and that the number of children and teenagers—12.7 percent between the ages of 5 and 11—admitted to U.S. children’s hospitals for suicidal thoughts has also more than doubled in the past decade.
We have reached out to Meridy Leeper for comment and will update with her reply.