Last month, the YouTube community were up in arms after popular vlogger Philip DeFranco brought attention to another channel, DaddyOFive, and the abuse that they inflict on their young children.
Run by parents Mike and Heather Martin, DaddyOFive had over 700,000 subscribers and showed the two adults ‘pranking’ their kids in truly horrifying ways.
The pranks varied from screaming and swearing at the children for things that they know that they didn’t do all the way up to physical abuse – with some clips showing nine-year-old Cody be viciously pushed face first into a bookcase – resulting in a bloody nose -, rugby tackled to the ground, told that he is adopted and have his XBOX smashed with a hammer.
Another video showed his 12-year-old sister, Emma, get slapped around the face by an older brother on their father’s order, however, it was Cody who seemed to bear the brunt of the abuse and he was often filmed breaking down, crying hysterically and insisting that he didn’t want to be filmed for the channel as Mike and Heather shouted abuse at him, mocked him, and swore at him.
Needless to say, the footage was incredibly distressing to watch and after catching wind of what was going on, Philip DeFranco – who has over 5million subscribers – edited together examples of the abuse and explained to his viewers what is going on, also alerting child protection services.
Amid the uproar, Mike and Heather uploaded a video of themselves explaining that they weren’t taking Cody on a family trip to DisneyWorld because he had “clogged the toilet”, furthering allegations that the nine-year-old was targeted and picked on by his dad and stepmother.
Now Cody and Emma’s biological mother, Rose Hall, has confirmed that she has emergency custody of the two children and that they have moved back in with her in North Carolina.
Admitting that it was “heartbreaking and distressing” to see her children suffering online, Rose added: “Cody had a difficult time [when she went to pick him up], he said some things that were disturbing; that he hated me and that Mike and Heather had told him I threw him away like he was garbage and I didn’t love him any more.
“That’s not true at all.
“He has a long road to recovery and it’s going to take a lot of counselling.”
However, she went on to reveal that both children had settled into her house over the weekend and enjoyed reuniting with their grandparents and cousins.
Rose thanked Philip as well as the many other YouTubers who helped to bring attention to the harrowing treatment Cody and Emma were receiving, and Phil was inundated with praise on social media for his role in getting the young children out of Mike and Heather’s custody.
The father-of-two remained modest on Twitter, writing: “I know I’m getting a lot of credit for bringing the DO5 child prank scandal to the masses, but something I need to say on that… The real heroes in this DO5 situation are people like @nickmon1112 and others who worked tirelessly to gather evidence and sources.”
Mike and Heather Martin previously accused Philip DeFranco of “ruining their lives” but eventually posted a video apologising for upsetting viewers with their videos, making their channel private and taking a break from the spotlight.