Strict Parenting or Child Abuse: the Franke Case

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Dec 03, 2023 | 0 Comments

Ruby Franke is an enormously popular family vlogger who is now facing criminal charges for some shocking—and criminal—behavior. A YouTube celebrity with over two million subscribers, Ruby Franke came to fame in 2015 when she began posting videos of her family, offering tips and a tough-love philosophy on childcare and parenting. She was beloved for her straightforward, no-nonsense, and what some considered "strict" parenting style. But she crossed a line when she physically restrained her children and withheld food, leaving them malnourished.

While this case is extreme, it does bring into question just where the line between strict parenting and child abuse lies. If you have a strict or "old school" parenting style, you may be putting yourself at risk for criminal charges.

Background on the Franke Case

The Franke case offers some clear indicators about who constitutes abuse and what the repercussions of that behavior might be. In the Franke case, a 12-year-old boy escaped the house and ran to the neighbor's house, begging for food and water. The boy had marks on his wrists from being restrained. When police searched the home of Franke's business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, they discovered Franke's 10-year-old daughter also in need of nourishment. Both children were admitted to the hospital. All four Franke children living at home were taken into Child and Family Services. The vlogger and her business partner were arrested and taken into custody for aggravated child abuse. The case is extreme, and much of the behavior that is described in the charges seems to be a clear case of abuse.

But just where is the line between "strict" and "abusive" to ensure you won't be accused of crossing it?

What Constitutes Child Abuse

New Jersey law is clear about its definition of child abuse: It is a crime in New Jersey to 'abuse, abandon, be cruel to or neglectful of' a child. And it's important to know where the line is drawn.

Abuse includes:

  • Leaving or giving up a child without giving up custody according to law
  • Repeated use of profane/obscene language around the child
  • Forcing the child to do work that is dangerous or illegal
  • Committing certain acts in front of the child so as to corrupt it morally
  • Using excessive physical restraint on a child

Child abuse in the form of abandonment may include:

  • "Willfully forsaking" the child
  • Allowing the child to be put at physical or moral risk by lack of care, custody, or control
  • Putting the public or other agencies in the position of having to care for/protect the child due to lack of care, custody, or control

Child abuse in the form of cruelty may include:

  • Severe corporal punishment
  • Inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering and/or torment--or allowing the child to be subjected to such
  • Exposing a child to unnecessary hardship, fatigue, or mental or physical strains

If you have been accused of child abuse, the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team can help you develop the best possible defense and be sure they are given due process.

Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 or online to schedule a consultation.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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