Mother who gave parenting advice on YouTube arrested over child abuse after malnourished son escaped home

Ruby Franke formerly operated the ‘8 Passengers’ family YouTube channel (NBC/YouTube/Screengrab)
Ruby Franke formerly operated the ‘8 Passengers’ family YouTube channel (NBC/YouTube/Screengrab)

A mother from Utah who operated a YouTube channel that offered parenting advice has been arrested on charges related to child abuse.

Ruby Franke, who formerly operated the “8 Passengers” family YouTube channel, was arrested on Wednesday after officials said they discovered a malnourished minor with visible injuries and duct tape on their limbs.

Ms Franke’s business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, faces similar charges and was also arrested.

The two frequently collaborated on producing content, particularly videos offering guidance on relationships and parenting for Hildebrandt’s life counselling service known as ConneXions.

ConneXions has previously come under scrutiny for its parenting philosophy, it was reported.

The Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department said in a statement on Thursday that they received a report about a juvenile requiring assistance at 10.50am on Wednesday morning.

The juvenile was described as “emaciated and malnourished, with open wounds and duct tape around the extremities”.

“The condition of the juvenile was so severe that they were seen by Santa Clara-Ivins EMS and transported to a local area hospital,” the press release said.

The release explained that, based on the evidence gathered, officers proceeded to a nearby residence where they discovered another juvenile in a comparable condition. This second juvenile was subsequently transported to a local hospital to receive medical attention.

Following a search of the residence where the severely undernourished juveniles were located, four minors were entrusted to the custody of the Department of Child and Family Services.

Ruby Franke gained widespread recognition in 2015 via the YouTube channel “8 Passengers” which showcased her husband Kevin and their six children.

The channel amassed a substantial following, with nearly 2.3 million subscribers, before it was unexpectedly removed from YouTube earlier this year. The exact reasons for the channel’s removal from the platform remain unclear.

The Frankes’ notably strict parenting approach had prompted certain viewers to report them to authorities.

In June 2020, concerned viewers contacted local child protective services after their 15-year-old son Chad disclosed in a video that he had been sleeping on a beanbag for seven months, as reported by Insider.

Ms Franke had told the outlet at the time that this sleeping arrangement was a result of Chad’s “choice”, made after he was relocated from sharing a room with his younger brother due to behavioural concerns.

She previously received criticism for her actions in videos where she declined to give lunch to her then-six-year-old child when they forgot to pack their own food as well as for threatening to discard her children’s cherished belongings.