Two children at the center of a controversial YouTube channel are with their mother after she received emergency custody following alleged abuse documented in YouTube videos.
The children, 9 and 12 years old were featured in a series of 'prank videos' posted by YouTube vlogger DaddyOFive. The father, Mike Martin uploaded over a hundred videos showing him 'pranking' his 5 children. The pranks consisted of Martin and his second wife Heather screaming and cursing the kids while accusing them of doing things they did not do, such as spilling ink on the carpet in their home.
Other videos appeared to show Martin pushing the 9 year old into a bookshelf and ordering an older child to slap the 12 year old in the face while the other children watched and while Martin laughed into the camera. The 9 year old appeared emotionally distressed at times, yelling at his father that he's "tired of this" and while his step-mother screamed that he needed to "take a joke".
I asked licensed counselor Daniel Vaughan to watch the videos and tell me whether he believed the videos were indeed pranks, or something else.
"I would classify it as abuse," said Vaughan but admitting his reaction comes without talking with the children and only from watching the videos.
"There are obvious signs of emotional stress here," said Vaughan. "The reaction I'm seeing would indicate that there is a really high likelihood that there's going to be long term emotional scars. from going through these repeated events."
YouTube viewers who saw the videos began leaving comments on the videos saying they were not only offensive but calling out the parents for abuse. The Martin's doubled-down on their claim it was all in fun and that the kids were actually in on the pranks. Still, many viewers didn't buy their excuse. YouTuber Philip DeFranco devoted parts of his show to the video channel and questioned whether what's going on could be performed by children and said if the youngest boy was pretending he would be an "acting prodigy."
On Tuesday the biological mother of the two youngest children released her own video in which she, sitting alongside her attorney, stated she received emergency custody of her children and that they are doing fine. Rose Hall also thanked the YouTube community for calling out and bringing attention to the alleged abuse of her children.
DaddyOFive has taken down all of the videos on his YouTube channel and posted one where he and his wife Heather again stated it was all a prank and that the reactions of the children in some of the videos were exaggerated. Heather Martin said they may have gone too far in some of the videos and also said the family is in counseling