Over the past few weeks, you may have noticed the YouTube channel DaddyOFive being fervently discussed on the web. Ostensibly a comedy channel, DaddyOFive features two parents that dole out practical jokes to their five children, often at the expense of the two youngest kids, Cody and Emma.
The pranks have drawn mass criticism (including from YouTube personality Philip DeFranco) online as YouTubers and users of the web have noted that the children being pranked didn’t seem to find their ordeal very funny, and some of the jokes at their expense were less amusing than they were potentially traumatising.
Initially, Mike and Heather Martin, the parents behind the DaddyOFive channel, claimed that the videos were nothing but harmless pranks, and the children in question were in on the joke. Eventually, though the Martins released a full apology on their channel, before deleting the rest of the offending videos. The apology was not, however, enough to prevent the Martins from losing custody of two of their kids.
In recent weeks, the DaddyOFive YouTube channel has shot into the public eye, soaring up to 800,000 subscribers, as well as gaining millions of views on their various videos. The nature of the pranks, however, had many disturbed: one such video depicts Mike and Heather Martin shouting at Cody and Emma that they were “adopted”, and another has father Mike pushing Cody into a bookcase.
Heather Martin, however, is only Cody and Emma’s stepmother; their biological mother is Rose Hall, and in an address to the internet, she revealed that she had taken emergency custody of Mike Martin’s two youngest children.
Seated in front of the camera with her lawyer, Tim Conlon, Rose Hall thanks the internet community for their part in rescuing Cody and Emma from their unenviable situation, and revealed that the two children were doing well in a sort of “de-programming sort of mode” since being taken out of the Martin household, saying that “they’re getting back to their playful selves”.
According to both Rose Hall and the Martin family, an investigation was carried out on the family in the state of Maryland, and as stated by Hall’s sister Crystal Reynolds, the investigators considered the prank videos to have been “[appropriate] corporal punishment”, but Marc Abrams, a child psychologist and forensic consultant for the State of New York, wholeheartedly disagrees with this sentiment.
Excess corporal punishment or excess physical violence is considered abuse. Now, how do you define excess? Good luck. How much money do you have to spend on a lawyer.
Emergency custody is only granted in special circumstances, and is “often sought if one parent becomes abusive and presents imminent harm or threat to the children”. It is, however, only a temporary measure, and it remains to be seen if Mike and Heather Martin will contest the ruling, or if Cody and Emma will be able to stay with their biological mother permanently. For the time being, though, these two young children are safe from pranks.