According to The Independent, YouTube channel "DaddyOFive" generated massive controversy after the channel displayed videos of what the parents who run the channel call "pranks," but what many have labeled as child abuse. Now, the parents of five children are losing custody of two of those children.
The videos featured instances of their two children, usually 9-year-old Cody, who bore the brunt of the pranks, being apparently emotionally and physically tormented by parents Mike and Heather Martin. The videos depicted the parents screaming and cursing at the children, threatening to punish them for wrongdoing they didn't commit, and subjecting them to apparent physical abuse. In one video, Cody appeared to be thrown into a bookshelf, sustaining a bloody nose.
The videos would reportedly end with Cody crying, and pleading for it to stop, to which the father would say the catch phrase, "it's just a prank, bro." This was apparently meant to make Cody happy, but appeared to not have worked.
According to Mike Martin, the videos were "faked," and weren't child abuse.
YouTube star Phillip DeFranco featured some of these videos in a report on his channel, which garnered widespread attention and condemnation of the Martins for their antics.
Rose Hall, the biological mother of Cody and his sister Emma, has been given emergency custody of the children, and says in a YouTube video with her lawyer that the kids are "doing good," and "getting back to their playful selves."
Mike Martin claimed in a tweet sent on April 19 that CPS had already investigated the family, but were cleared of any wrongdoing.
The Martins have deleted all of the "prank" videos from the DaddyOFive channel, and uploaded one containing an apology video on April 22, where Heather Martin tearfully said that "they have made some terrible parenting decisions."
"I acknowledge and respect how everyone feels, and I do agree that we put things on the internet that should not be there," Mike said in the video, acknowledging that the couple "did things that we should not do."
"We just want to give our kids back some type of normalcy," Heather said. "We just want them to be able to go back to school, and just live their lives."