Disturbing truth behind family vloggers

By Tristan E. M. Leach

Imagine for a moment that you have recently had a baby. You bring this baby home, put the child to sleep and nurture them everyday. Now, imagine one day looking out your child’s window and seeing a person staring in, watching your child’s every movement. You’d be terrified and most likely disgusted. This is your child and you will do anything to protect them. 

Now imagine you are putting your child on camera for millions to see, including that creepy person who looks through the window. Would you stop if you knew who was watching? Or would the money, the PR packages and the fame outweigh the safety of your child? This is one of the latest trending topics of concern, specifically with family vloggers. 

Recently a woman named Ruby Franke was arrested and sentenced to four consecutive prison sentences, each lasting one to 15 years, for the abuse of her six children. What makes Franke’s case even more disturbing? Countless hours of video evidence where Franke admits to abusing her children. 

 Franke and her family rose to fame after she started a YouTube channel named 8 Passengers, which chronicled the life of Franke, her husband Kevin and their six children. The once extremely popular channel had 2.5 million subscribers and a billion views. Many regarded the Utah-based family vlog as one of the best and most entertaining out there. 

That was until the escape of her 12-year-old son from Franke’s business partner’s home. The boy appeared to have been bound and malnourished. Police found Franke’s youngest, a 10-year-old girl, also inside the business partner’s home. Both Franke and the partner, Jodi Nan Hildebrandt, were arrested. The four children who still lived with their mother and father, Kevin Franke, were placed in custody of the state and thus began a worldwide conversation about family vloggers.  

By Rashe Mishra

The goal of family vloggers is to show the day in the life of everyone in the home. While the intentions seem pure, the actions are anything but. Popular TikToker Caroline Easom created a video series about family vlogging and the harmful effects of living life for the camera. Easom’s characters are known as The Sandwich Family and follows the youngest child “Little Sandwich” as she discovers that she doesn’t have to comply with her “Mama Sandwich” and her demands for endless content from her daughters. 

While Easom’s series is a wonderful commentary on the harmful effects of family vlogging, there is another part of the story to be discussed: pedophilia.

 One child who is at the center of this conversation is Wren, a young girl whose mom, Jacquelyn Paul, dresses her daughter in outfits that many have deemed as too old for the young girl. Many commenters raised concerns for Wren and her online safety. Comments from people, especially older men, read disturbing things such as “I like them young” and “That skirt is the perfect length on her.” 

Jacquelyn, Wren’s mom, responded to multiple comments claiming that Wren was not subjected to pedophiles and that there was no way videos of the little girl could be on the dark web. There is no way to truly know this unless Jacquelyn went searching for her daughter’s content in places unknown to the average person. 

So what can be done by us as viewers? Well, not much aside from no longer consuming the content from family vloggers. These children are not yet old enough to consent to constant exposure, and just because mom or dad does it, doesn’t mean their child has to also. 

At the end of the day, children are still human beings. That means that just like adults, the youth of our country deserves to feel safe in their home and online. A child who wants and needs quality bonding time with their parents doesn’t need their first time walking filmed and put on the internet for millions to see. What they need is to be able to feel safe with their parents until they can consent to public exposure. 

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