'Child abuser' YouTube stars lose custody of kids

A US mother and father have had child services take two of their children away from them after a series of YouTube videos were posted online depicting them emotionally and physically abusing their kids.

The couple became YouTube stars on account of their pranks, which would see them blame or deceive their children into thinking they had done something wrong or that something serious would happen to them.

They did it under the YouTube channel DaddyOFive, which has more than 760,000 subscribers - but last month a series of videos emerged showing them carrying out pranks that have been labelled cruel and unfunny.

Some depicted the couple insulting, swearing and yelling at their kids for things they didn't do as they cried hysterically, while another showed the father violently pushing his youngest son, Cody, into a bookshelf.

The videos drew huge derision from the YouTube community and other internet users, prompting DaddyOFive to remove all their videos and issue an apology - but that has proved too little too late, with internet users combining to get child services to take custody of two of their kids from them.

Cody, 9, and Emma, 12, were adopted by the couple behind DaddyOFive - and now the lawyer of the two kids' biological mother, Rose Hall, has announced that she has regained her parental responsibilities to the children.

A video shows Ms Hall explaining that things have improved since they were taken out of the custody of their adopted parents, saying they have enjoyed been reunited with their biological family.

"Cody was happy to be home, Emma was happy to be home," she said. "They're doing good - they're getting back to their playful selves."

Last month, the parents behind DaddyOFive apologised to their children and all their viewers for the content of their videos, saying that the week in which they were exposed was "the worst of our lives".

"What started out as family fun and entertainment took on a life of its own. Before we knew it, we were caught-up in our family's popularity which led to some poor decisions," they said.

"Upon reflection, we realise there were mistakes made that caused our family some pain; we offer our most humble and sincere apology to those we negatively impacted and offended, particularly our wonderful children.

"Our children are safe. Off camera and out of character, they are normal, happy kids who play sports and love being with their family and friends. Thank you for your understanding as we work through this difficult time."

Estimates of DaddyOFive's annual income before the controversy started range from between US$200,000 ($290,000) and US$350,000 ($500,000).