Michael and Heather Martin, the parents behind the popular and controversial YouTube Channel DaddyOFive, have lost custody of their two youngest children after inadvertently documenting child abuse, reported the Independent.
Known for their brutal prank videos involving their five children, the couple initially dismissed the concerns of some in the YouTube community with the catchphrase, "It's just a prank, bro." However, with the loss of 11-year-old Emma and 9-year-old Cody, they now admit that things got out of hand.
According to the Independent, DaddyOFive was started in 2015 and gets its name from Michael Martin, the father who runs the channel. His videos features pranks on his unsuspecting brood that some found hilarious, but others saw as abusive. His adopted son, Cody, was a favorite victim, and the Martins would set up a video by accusing him of bad behavior, then punishing him for it. With titles like "8 year old gets waterboarded" and content featuring physical violence, the videos were not so much amusing as they were heartbreaking.
The Independent reported that, in one video, Cody gets a bloody nose after being violently pushed into a bookcase. Many of the videos end with Cody in tears, pleading with his father to stop pranking him and to stop filming. When his family attempts to cajole the boy with their now infamous catchphrase, it doesn't help. In another attempt to placate their children, the Martins explain to them that their toys are bought with money made off of the videos.
As DaddyOFive's popularity grew, so did the concern, and the YouTube community began to take serious issue with the so-called pranks. One fellow YouTuber made a video splicing some of the Martin's most disturbing scenes together, which drew attention from the mainstream media.
Michael Martin protested the negative attention and insisted that the pranks looked harsher on screen than they were in reality, however, others begged to differ. The Frederick County Sheriff's Office has removed Cody and his sister, Emma, from the Martin's home and placed them in emergency custody with their biological mother, Rose Hall. A hearing is scheduled for Friday.