After increased public outcry, and indignation over the abusive content included in the videos that were posted on the ‘DaddyOFive’ channel on Youtube, Heather and Mike Martin have lost custody of two of their children. Heather is the stepmom of Cody, aged nine, one of the common targets of the vicious “prank” videos. The videos featuring the abuse have been removed from the channel, and the only video that remains is a “public apology”.
The channel was started in 2015, but the public began to become aware of the abuse the children were suffering after several videos started circulating off the channel. One of the videos included Heather pouring ink all over her step son’s room, and then screaming and swearing at him, asking why he messed up his room. Crying, he denies it, and eventually, they tell him it’s, “just a prank bro”. Some of their other abusive “pranks” include telling him he’s being adopted by another family and smashing his Xbox with a hammer.
Some of their other videos even depict physical violence. In several videos, the children physically fight, and in one, one of the boys slaps his younger sister across the face after being goaded by this father. Cody is shoved, falling into a bookcase and landing up with a bloody nose, though his father claimed the blood was fake. Another even more frightening video shows the family dressing one child as an intruder, and having the father come downstairs with a gun, to scare Cody into thinking the home was being broken into.
After one particularly difficult video, leaving Cody exhausted, and frustrated, he threatens suicide, saying,
Another Youtube, Philip DeFranco, posted a compilation video on his channel, arguing that the DaddyOFive channel was actually abusing their children and that it wasn’t funny.
It was the help of the online community, largely Twitter, but other platforms were involved, that spread the information about the abuse that was going on in the family. A petition was spread, asking for Child Protective Services to re-investigate the channel for child abuse, they had previously investigated one video but claimed it was not abuse.
While the family claimed that people’s criticism of the videos were causing more stress than the actual videos, a way of deflecting people’s attention from the abuse, two of the children, Mike’s from a previous relationship, were returned to their biological mother. The biological mother also stated that the children were illegally taken from her in 2014 after Mike and Heather forged her signature on a custody document, but no more information has come out on that yet.
The couple had apparently made between $200,000 – $350,000 a year from their prank videos. It’s incredibly sad and disappointing that so many people were totally okay with the abuse of children for “humour”, and so many people have come to the defense of these disgusting parents. There should have been a point before 2017, where someone stepped in to help these kids. Hopefully, both Cody and his sister, have a normal life and are able to get help for any issues that might linger after the treatment from their father and stepmother.