Viral trend puts teens at risk

Updated: 03/05/2014 6:24 PM
Created: 03/05/2014 4:49 PM WHEC.com
By: Amanda Ciavarri

It's common for teens to ask, “Am I pretty?” But what if they asked that question to the whole world through the internet? It is a scary trend that is all over YouTube. Experts say it could have dangerous results.

Most people struggle with self-esteem growing up and questioning their looks. But what concerns experts the most about these videos is what teens are opening themselves up to.

Videos are all over YouTube. To find them, people just have to search, “pretty or ugly.” Some have hundreds of thousands of views. News10NBC showed the videos to Mary Whittier, the Executive Director at Bivona Child Advocacy Center. She says the questions these teens are asking are normal, but how they are doing is what concerns her.

Mary Whitter, Bivona Child Advocacy Center Executive Director, said, “This is an open invitation for a sex offender.  This is an open invitation for a predator. These kids are vulnerable. They aren't getting what they need at home, or with their peer group, and now someone is saying, 'Of course, you are beautiful, you are the most beautiful girl I've ever seen,' and enticing them.”

In the comments below the videos, some people show provocative pictures of themselves. Strangers write to the young girls, telling them how pretty they are and give them a phone number or screen name where they can talk.

Whittier said, “We need to be extra conscious of this and do our own due diligence at home, as parents, as educators. It starts at home, being open with your kid; give them positive reinforcement, having an open dialogue.”

If you need help bringing up conversations like this with your kids, the Bivona Child Advocacy Center has helpful information on their website.

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