Some people just don’t learn. Last year, Michael and Heather Martin lost custody of two of their five kids and were placed on probation for child neglect after they were discovered to be callously pranking their children for clicks on the now defunct “DaddyOFive” YouTube channel. Instead of deterring them from the childish antics, turns out the annoying couple was still posting videos on two other channels, “FamilyOFive” and “FamilyOFive Gaming,” and it was more of the same: child abuse dressed up as good fun. This week, YouTube shut down both sites after complaints streamed in from users.
“It seems to be a lot of set-up situations like, ‘We’re exposing (one son’s) text messages to his girlfriend!’ and basically a bunch of situations designed to embarrass the various kids,” vlogger Amanda the Jedi explained in a recent video critiquing the Martin parents. “There is still footage of kids freaking out because they are being harassed. The pranks are directed more directed toward the adults, which is probably the smart way to go, but it’s still just very exploitative.”
In May of last year, the biological mother of two of the Martin children was granted emergency custody after videos were published of the couple cursing at the kids, breaking their toys, and pushing and slapping them. The court didn’t buy their explanation that the videos were “fake and being acted out.” The new channels only further undercut their argument.
In the Trailer for the “FamilyOFive” channel, one of the kids takes a blow to the groin while another, the youngest actually, is seen angrily yelling, “Stop, turn off the camera!” A different video shows one of the boys being coerced into explaining to the camera why he has a black eye, indicating that he got it while fooling around with his brother. One unconvinced commenter asked: “You sure you didn’t flex your arm into your kid’s face?”
Whatever the case may be, pranking your own children for money or acclaim, is wrong. Not only is it a misguided attempt at being funny, but more often than not it undermines trust between the parent and child. And while it might play well in the company of strangers, it’s a sick thing to do to your children. Thankfully, YouTube stepped up and put a stop to the clearly disturbed couple.
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