Were the Frankes as fun as they seemed? 

A closer look into the 8Passengers YouTube channel and the woman in charge of it all
Graphic of a headshot of Franke superseded by a picture of her taken in court for her charges.
Graphic of a headshot of Franke superseded by a picture of her taken in court for her charges.

Trigger Warning: This piece discusses allegations of child abuse and neglect. 

Family YouTubers, we all know them, but should we love them? Family YouTube channels often vlog their everyday life showing normal day-to-day activities, but has anyone ever thought about how this affects the children involved? 

Children are often the main focal point in these videos, and many children are so young that they cannot express whether they want to be recorded. By being in these videos, kids are often exploited for the sake of views, and they have a lack of privacy in their own homes. 

A perfect example of this is the vloggers 8passngers. The 8passngers was a well-known family YouTube channel involving Ruby and Kevin Franke, and their 6 children. The vlogs they posted always seemed lighthearted and fun, and by the looks of it, the kids lived a happy, healthy, well-adjusted life.  

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But that wasn’t always the case, Ruby would often record things that her kids were not comfortable sharing like doctors’ visits and bra shopping. Not only would she record these private events in the first place, but when her kids would ask her to stop, she would ignore them even though they were visibly upset and embarrassed.  

Soon after, people started to notice the outrageous rules that Ruby held her kids to. On multiple occasions when one of her young children would forget to pack their lunch, she would refuse to bring them food because she said this would teach them to be more responsible. Ruby and Kevin also, by their admission, sent their child to a wilderness camp as punishment for playing a prank on one of his siblings.  

Since then, The Franke family has stopped making vlogs and the 8passengers YouTube channel has been taken down. After this, Ruby started a new career giving out life and parenting advice online with Jodi Hildebrandt, who was her oldest son’s former therapist.  

At the end of August of 2023, Ruby and Jodi were arrested on six counts of aggravated child abuse, when the youngest Franke son was able to escape from Hildebrandt’s home and get help from a neighbor. Prior to the arrest, Child protective services were called on multiple occasions, but ultimately nothing was done. 

The Salt Lake Tribune states, “The six counts initially filed against Franke and Hildebrandt accounted for the three different ways prosecutors said the women caused or permitted “serious injury” to Franke’s two youngest children: 1) through a combination of physical injuries or torture; 2) through starvation or malnutrition that jeopardizes life; and 3) by causing severe emotional harm, according to the Washington County attorney’s office.” 

The plea agreement states some of the horrific acts that Franke has committed, including holding her son’s head underwater, kicking him in the face while wearing boots, tying him up and laying him on his stomach, forcing her daughter to work outside for all hours of the day without food or water, and unfortunately much more. She would tell her kids that they were possessed and evil. She also told them everything that was being done to them was an act of love.  

The family’s oldest daughter, Shari Franke, made a post on Instagram the day her mother was arrested saying “finally” and stated “There’s literally not even words to describe how upside down my life has become. I’ve cried, had an infinite number of panic attacks, had way too much ice-cream, and yet life goes on.” Shari has previously called the Springville authorities to perform welfare on her siblings back in September of 2022. 

Both women have since pleaded guilty to 4 of the 6 charges against them. At Franke’s hearing on December 18, 2023, she stated “With my deepest regret and sorrow for my family and my children, guilty.”  Franke’s sentencing hearing is currently set for February 20th, 2024, where she is facing 1 to 15 years in prison per charge. 

When asked about people in the spotlight getting away with these kinds of acts, Psychology teacher Mrs. Taylor says “I think that the answer to that question is mixed. I think because they’re in the public eye, it might be easier to identify signs of abuse, but I do think that when people know your personality better, they will tend to believe that you’re less likely to be guilty of something like that.” 

This situation was a shock to many because a lot of people looked up to their family and found comfort in their videos.  This shows that no matter how good something is, not everything is as good as it seems. 


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    ewaldo08Feb 21, 2024 at 11:12 am

    Justice for her children