‘8 Passengers’ parenting mum arrested on child abuse suspicion

A Utah woman who ran a popular parenting advice YouTube channel has been arrested on suspicion of child abuse after her malnourished son escaped from home, officials said.

Ruby Franke and her business partner Jodi Nan Hildebrandt were arrested in Ivins, Utah on Wednesday.

Officials also found Ms Franke’s 10-year-old daughter in a malnourished condition at her partner’s house.

Ms Franke and her business partner face two felony counts of child abuse.

The BBC has reached out to Ms Franke and Ms Hildebrandt for comment.

Police say Ms Franke’s 12-year-old son climbed out of the window and ran to a neighbour’s house to ask for food and water.

“The calling party [the neighbour] stated the juvenile appeared to be emaciated and malnourished, with open wounds and duct tape around the extremities,” according to a statement from the Santa-Clara Ivins Public Safety Department.

“Upon arrival, law enforcement observed the wounds and the malnourishment of [the boy] to be severe,” the statement said.

The boy had to be taken to the hospital “due to his deep lacerations from being tied up with rope and from his malnourishment”. Ms Franke’s 10-year-old daughter was also taken to the hospital.

Officials later obtained a search warrant in connection with the incident, and in total, four children were taken into the care of family and child services, according to the statement.

Ms Franke, 41, became YouTube famous in 2015 for her channel called 8 Passengers that discussed parenting of her six children.

The channel gained over 2 million subscribers before it was deactivated earlier this year.

The vlogger has faced a backlash in the past for her strict parenting measures described on the channel, including her son claiming he slept on a bean bag for several months as punishment and Ms Franke describing withholding meals as another disciplinary measure.

The bean bag incident led some viewers to call local child protective services, though Ms Franke claimed to Insider the incident had been taken out of context.

She has also appeared in YouTube videos posted by Ms Hildebrandt – a counsellor and life coach – on her site, ConneXions Classroom.

In one such video posted on 10 May 2022, Ms Franke described herself as Ms Hildebrandt’s “side-kick” and questioned why so many children were suffering from depression.

“I never expected my second-grader to come home and say so-and-so has anxiety and so-and-so has depression,” she said. “Something is off. This isn’t right.”

In a second video – entitled “guiding children to truth” – Ms Hildebrandt called on mothers “to understand that principles are necessary” for children to have a “calm and peaceful” life.

According to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune, Ms Hildebrandt was put on probation for 18 months and nearly lost her license to be a pornography-addiction therapist after publicly discussing a patient without his permission.

Ms Franke’s eldest daughter Shari Franke shared a post on Instagram after her mother’s arrest, saying that she and her family “are so glad justice is being served”, US media reported.

“We’ve been trying to tell the police and CPS for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up,” she reportedly said.

Ms Franke has requested an attorney and did not speak to officers, according to the Associated Press. That attorney had not publicly been identified on Thursday.

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